Coke u-turn sees O&M on UK roster

LONDON - Ogilvy & Mather announced yesterday that it had won the global Fanta and Sprite accounts owned by Coca-Cola, in a move that flies in the face of the soft drink giant's much-vaunted "think local, act local" strategy.

The Sprite and Diet Sprite accounts move from Interpublic Group's Lowe Lintas & Partners, while Fanta shifts from Soul in the UK and Cliff Freeman & Partners in the US. Paul Simons, chairman and chief executive of Ogilvy UK, said: "It's very good news in these gloomy times and we're absolutely thrilled."

However, sources close to the business expect IPG to be compensated for its loss with the global Diet Coke account, currently handled by Wieden & Kennedy. It has not yet emerged if the business will be handed to Lowe Lintas or sister network McCann-Erickson. Powerade, the company's energy drink brand handled by Wieden & Kennedy in the US, is reported to be shifting to IPG's third major network, FCB.

The network appointments have been instigated by the president-chief executive of Coca-Cola's new-business ventures unit, Steve Heyer. The company's local marketing departments, however, still appear unclear about what is happening to their agency relationships. A spokesman for Coca-Cola UK said: "We are retaining the agencies we currently have in the UK and there are no current plans to change."

A place on Coca-Cola's coveted roster is a coup for WPP. There was an existing relationship between Heyer, a former WPP board member and a former president of Young & Rubicam, and WPP's chief executive, Sir Martin Sorrell. Heyer joined Coca-Cola in March.

The return to international advertising campaigns controlled from Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters comes only a year after Douglas Daft, Coca-Cola's chairman and chief executive, instigated the local advertising strategy. One source close to the business said: "The pendulum has swung back to centralised control at Coca-Cola."

In the UK, Coca-Cola's marketing director, Charlotte Oades, has been implementing the local strategy since her appointment to the position in May 2000. Since then she has reviewed the entire roster of Coca-Cola brands, handing accounts to smaller creative hot shops including Soul, which won Coke Auction and Fanta, Wieden & Kennedy, which won Diet Coke, and Mother, which won the Dr Pepper, Alive and Schweppes accounts in addition to its work for Lilt.

Last week PepsiCo shifted its Quaker brands' accounts out of IPG's FCB network because of IPG's relationship with Coca-Cola. The expected Diet Coke and Powerade account moves are thought to have taken IPG's resultant billings loss into account.

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Clare Conley, recommends

Coca Cola

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