Estimated $30 million billings
Billings were not disclosed, but executives
Four agencies originally took part in the pitch, which began last month: Starcom MediaVest; Aegis Group's Carat; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann; and the incumbent, Publicis' Zenith Optimedia. Earlier this month, the review narrowed to Starcom and Carat.
The Coke loss is the second blow to Zenith this fall. Last month, it lost Procter & Gamble Co.'s media negotiation business in China to Starcom, although Zenith continues to handle about 60% of P&G's media planning in China.
Coca-Cola's creative business, split in China between Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide for Coke and WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather for Sprite and Fanta, was not reviewed.
Hong Kong market
Starcom already handles Coca-Cola's media buying business in nearby Hong Kong, where the soft-drink marketer spends about $10 million in media, but media planning is split between Universal McCann (Coke), Japanese agency Hakuhodo (juice brands) and WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia, which handles planning for all other Coca-Cola brands in Hong Kong. Coke might realign its media business in Hong Kong with one of the four incumbents in a separate move from the mainland China pitch. A decision is expected in early December.