Coke Picks UM As Media Agency in North America

Beverage Giant Will Also Use Shops Such as Ogilvy for Media Projects

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Coca-Cola Co. has selected UM as its lead media agency for North America, ending a review that began in the spring.

The beverage giant considered incumbent SMG's MediaVest along with other agencies that Coke works with globally, including MediaCom.

"At the end of a rigorous ten-week process, Coca-Cola North America has decided to invite UM to be our lead agency for all of our media planning, buying and media analytics," the company said in a statement to Ad Age. "They will also be the primary partner for devising the most innovative and business driving connections strategies."

As a part of the move, Coke is changing its media strategy, embracing what it calls a "hybrid approach" that will include handing some media strategy assignments to other shops, including creative shop Ogilvy. Spark SMG will also be considered for some work, a spokeswoman confirmed.

"With this model we believe we're best positioned with the talent, the tools, the technologies and the thinking to suit our strongest and innovative ambitions," the company said in a statement.

Ad Age reported Ogilvy's involvement in the review in June.

Coca-Cola spent more than $406 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media. Spending is accelerating this year as the company implements a global cost-cutting program with some savings poured into media.

Ogilvy's involvement is evidence of an increasing desire by marketers to more closely align creative and media strategies. Ivan Pollard, senior-VP for connections, investments and assets at Coca-Cola North America, stressed in a an interview that UM would be the lead media agency and there is nothing yet definitive in the works for Ogilvy.

But he added that Ogilvy, for example, "may be working on a creative assignment for the company where it makes a lot of sense strategically and form a value perspective to also give them a connections assignment."

These decisions, he added, would be handled on a case-by-case basis. "Sometimes being close to the creative is a barrier because you might want a bit of tension in the process. But sometimes it may be an advantage," he said.

SMG's MediaVest and MediaCom will continue to work on global Coke business, along with Carat/Dentsu.

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