Four Finalists to Come Back With Additional Information

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CHICAGO ( -- After hearing presentations this week, Coca-Cola Co. has delayed a decision on its $350 million domestic media buying and planning review, a spokesman said.

Instead, Coca-Cola asked Interpublic Group

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Incumbents Universal McCann, Starcom MediaVest to Go First
of Cos.' Universal McCann (the incumbent for national media buying), Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Aegis Group's Carat and WPP Group's MindShare to come back with additional information. MediaVest currently handles planning for the Coke and Diet Coke brands and the beverage giant's waters, juices and flavors groups; Starcom plans media for Minute Maid.

Decision next week
A decision may not come until after next week, the spokesman for the beverage giant said. David Raines, vice president of integrated communications at Coca-Cola, is running the review and declined to comment.

According to an executive close to the situation, Coca-Cola has asked for clarifications on issues such as staffing, software systems for economic modeling and measurement, resources for multicultural planning, and coordination with local markets. The company appears to be seeking logistical information needed to evaluate media costs, according to a second executive. Responses to the latest requests are due Nov. 5.

Coca-Cola declined to comment on the additional information.

Agency presentations at the company headquarters in Atlanta earlier this week lasted around four hours. Each group was asked to present their planning and buying models, entertainment marketing credentials as well as fees. Executives saw teams on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

According to one executive at the review, the tight schedule of presentations produced at least one awkward moment. The MediaVest pitch team, which presented first on Monday morning, ran into the Universal McCann team, on its way to present second. Both teams were at the Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta.

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Claire Atkinson and Richard Linnett contributed to this report.