Holly Moore explains how Coca-Cola is taking a CAA team to generate new
Advertising executives from Coca-Cola’s roster agencies must be kidding
themselves. They insist that Coke’s split with the Creative Artists
Agency, and its new partnership with former CAA staffers, will not
affect established relationships. But can it really be business as
Two weeks ago, the beverage manufacturer announced it was taking the
three main CAA executives on the Coke Classic account to form an, as
yet, unnamed partnership to generate ads under the ‘always Coca-Cola’
The three executives - Shelly Hochran, Len Fink and Jack Harrower - will
take a minority stake in the new company. Coca-Cola is to be the
majority shareholder, and the operation will also be loosely affiliated
The announcement followed the departure of Michael Ovitz - the man who
first brokered the Coke/CAA partnership - from the agency two months ago
to become the president of the Walt Disney Company.
Reports suggest the media giant will not have any financial links withthe company, although there will no doubt be synergies between these
two family-oriented firms as they work together. In fact, the
relationship can only grow.
Following Disney’s merger with ABC/Capital Cities, Coke is expected to
benefit significantly in any media deals from its partnership with
Observers suggest the only real change resulting from the deal is that
Hochran, Fink and Harrower are now on the Coke payroll. However, the
move is in line with Coke’s paradoxical tendency to consolidate
resources while still expanding its roster of agencies.
In a recent Adweek interview, Coke’s chief marketing officer, Sergio
Zyman, explained how the company now does all of its planning and
strategy work in Atlanta. Information is then passed on to ad agencies,
which try to address specific concerns.
In the Coke/Disney venture the trio of executives will be responsible
for selecting talented production people to execute strategies handed
down from Atlanta.
Given Coke’s restless quest for cutting-edge ads, its roster agencies
are probably right to worry. To ease the anxiety, the last line of
Coke’s press announcement about the deal said: ‘The creation of the new
company does not affect any of the Coca-Cola company’s other agency
But there were no words of comfort for CAA, which has now lost Ovitz,
three top personnel and all of its formal ties with Coke.