CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; Coca-Cola woos top CAA trio

Holly Moore explains how Coca-Cola is taking a CAA team to generate new ads

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

with Disney.

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.

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content