Interpublic loses $350m US media account for Coke

NEW YORK - Universal McCann has lost the $350m US media buying work for Coca-Cola in a further blow to the Interpublic Group, after the beverage giant switched the account into Publicis Groupe-owned Starcom/MediaVest.

Universal McCann had handled media buying for Coca-Cola for nearly 20 years, and is the latest unit of McCann-Erickson Worldgroup to lose a slice of the Coke work.

Other losses this year include the UK creative for Coke Classic, which was switched from McCann-Erickson to Mother; the French creative, which moved from McCann-Erickson to BETC Euro RSCG; and losses in Singapore and Vietnam. In February, McCann-Erickson in the US lost the creative work on Coke to WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell.

However, Universal McCann will continue to work on Coca-Cola in many of the 200 countries in which the drink is sold.

Shares in Interpublic fell by 10 cents yesterday, closing at $14.21, a fall of 0.7%. The loss will hit Interpublic hard and further rock confidence in the troubled ad group.

Starcom/MediaVest, which already handled the planning for Coca-Cola, won the work after a pitch against Universal McCann, WPP's Mindshare and Carat.

As well as handling the media planning and buying for Coca-Cola, Starcom/MediaVest will look after Diet Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Cherry Coke; Sprite; Powerade; Dasani; Fanta; Nestea brands; and Minute Maid juice brands. Media includes broadcast, print, outdoor and internet advertising.

David Raines, vice president of integrated communications at Coca-Cola North America, said: "The consolidation of our media planning and buying responsibilities is designed to allow us to respond quickly to innovative ideas and opportunities, while enhancing efficiencies and accountability."

The account was put up for review in September.

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