McCann takes on Coke Xmas brief

McCann Erickson Madrid has been awarded the brief to develop the global Christmas campaign for Coca-Cola Classic in a move that signals a reinvigoration of its relationship with Interpublic.

The soft drinks company had been expected to strengthen IPG's share of its business since Steve Heyer, the president and chief operating officer, announced his departure in June. Heyer had long championed Coke's use of local hotshops over large network-aligned agencies.

McCann Madrid was appointed to the Christmas brief last month. The agency created the TV ad "Chihuaha", which featured a busker singing a 70-year-old mambo tune of the same name. The ad ran in Spain and the UK.

The work is not expected to replace the "polar bear" spot, which was originally created by the California agency Edge Creative in 1993. This has since been followed by spots by McCann New York and McCann Argentina, which has just finished work on the most recent campaign.

The vote of confidence in McCann reverses the recent flow of Coke business out of the network. In the UK, lead status on the account was handed to Mother in January 2003, while in France the account was moved to BETC Euro RSCG in September. And in February 2004, Heyer gave the global branding business to Berlin Cameron Red Cell.

Heyer's resignation followed the Coca-Cola board's decision to pull Neville Isdell out of retirement and name him as Douglas Daft's successor as the chairman and chief executive of the company.

Heyer, whose departure from Coke was revealed in June, leaves the company on 1 September. He is set to emerge at the US leisure company Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide as the chief executive.

Since the new management team began to take shape at the soft drinks giant, a return to global work has been signalled. Earlier this month, Coke invited some roster agencies to pitch for a brief to create TV and print ads that could run in any country for its Classic Coke brand.

The aim of the review is to create two TV spots and a billboard campaign that could run in any market.