Publicis has been picked by Coca-Cola to handle its pan-European branding assignments in a further move by the US soft drinks giant to make its marketing more responsive to local conditions.
The Paris-based group saw off the other Coke roster networks, McCann-Erickson and Leo Burnett, as well as the fledgling UK agency Soul to win the assignment to develop the brand's 'enjoy' theme for European markets.
It is the first time Coke, producer of the world's most famous brand, has appointed a network to produce work on a regional basis.
It is believed that the Publicis agency in London will take pole position in the development of the work, drawing on creative resources from other Publicis offices.
Neither Coca-Cola nor Publicis were available for comment as Campaign went to press although it is understood that there are four commercials in development.
They will be offered to local managers for use either in addition to or instead of more locally produced work. They alone will decide whether or not they wish to run it. The appointment does not affect existing agency assignments.
Publicis handles Coke business in some 40 countries, including the UK, where it produces creative work for the Coca-Cola and Diet Coke brands. Last year, the group was appointed to spearhead a crisis communications programme after tainted Coke cans were found in Belgium.
The latest assignment is in line with the company's mandate to 'think local, act local' and with the declared intent of Douglas Daft, Coke's worldwide president, to devolve marketing control out of the company's Atlanta headquarters and allow local managers greater autonomy.
'Until now, 90 per cent of Coke's advertising in the UK has been driven and controlled from Atlanta,' an industry source said. 'Now they want to go local and get away from a situation in which Atlanta creates advertising solutions to be disseminated around the world.'
The contamination scandal in Belgium - and Coke's slow response to it - as well as a sluggish domestic market have all helped fuel the trend.
The devolvement is not expected to lead to advertising on a country-by-country basis but campaigns which would run across countries with similar cultures. This could involve Europe being divided into regions - Southern Europe, Germany and the rest of Europe, including the UK, France and Scandinavia.
The increasingly local emphasis resulted in the recent appointment of Soul to handle a promotion for Coke Auction, a website on which Coke ring-pulls are used to bid for goods.