Coke Zero Starts U.S. Agency Review to Replace CP&B

Search Comes on Heels of Split With MDC Partners Shop, Which Worked on the Brand for Seven Years

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On the heels of its split with longtime U.S. agency CP&B, Coke Zero has invited a select group of shops to pitch for the business, Ad Age has learned.

Earlier this month, MDC Partners-owned CP&B and Coke Zero suddenly parted ways after a seven-year run, which now appears to be a move that preceded the launch of an official review process. CP&B continues to do work on the Vitaminwater brand.

The Coke Zero pitch is just getting under way and is understood to be led by Pio Schunker, head of integrated marketing at Coca-Cola North America. Among the agencies that have been invited to compete for the business are: MDC Partners' 72andSunny, independent Droga5, Publicis Groupe-owned Leo Burnett and WPP's Ogilvy.

Representatives for Coca-Cola declined to comment. Agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached by press time.

Two of those contenders are partners on other major initiatives. Globally, the beverage giant works with with Ogilvy, Paris, on Coke Zero. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola shifted North American duties for Sprite to Leo Burnett and global duties to WPP-backed Johannes Leonardo. The moves suggest that Coca-Cola marketing execs want different agency partners specifically dedicated to the U.S. rather than consolidating creative duties with a single global shop.

Compared with other brands under the Coca-Cola banner, the Coke Zero brand gets a significant portion of overall market spending in the U.S. It's actually surpassed that of Diet Coke. According to Kantar, Coca-Cola devoted about $35 million in U.S. measured media spending to Coke Zero in 2011, compared with $23 million for Diet Coke. Spending for brand Coca-Cola still gets the largest chunks of Coke's spending, though -- about $155 million.

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Contributing: Natalie Zmuda

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