Creative Agency Makes the Shortlist in Coca-Cola's Media-Agency Review

'We are Not Only Reviewing Our Agencies but Also Our Agency Model,' Coke Tells Told Ad Age

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Creative agencies don't typically participate in big media agency reviews, but WPP's Ogilvy &Mather is about to blow up that notion as it competes for a piece of Coca-Cola's media buying and planning account.

"We are not only reviewing our agencies but also our agency model," Ivan Pollard, senior-VP for connections, investments and assets at Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement to Ad Age. "We have invited Ogilvy instead of Carat to provide an alternative perspective on communications strategy."

The company declined to elaborate.

Ad Age reported on Monday that Carat was not proceeding with Coca-Cola's media review, one of more than a dozen major media accounts in play at the same time.

Coke is pitting Ogilvy against big media shops, including sister agency MediaCom and Publicis Groupe's Mediavest, for a piece of its account called "Connections," according to people close to the review. It's unclear what Connections entails, but people familiar with the matter are calling it a version of communications planning and strategy. Connections is one of three components of the media business that Coke is reviewing, according to people close to the review process. The other two are the more common planning and buying scopes.

Ogilvy declined to comment for this article.

Inviting a creative agency to pitch for even a piece of an account typically handled by media agencies indicates that the review is more of an effort to find a strategic partner than a cost-cutting exercise. Marketers often look for efficiency by bundling most their media duties with one agency network.

"As the media marketplace reshapes and reinvents itself, we frequently take the opportunity to formally review our media partners all around the world," a Coca-Cola spokeswoman said as she confirmed the review in April. "Continued appraisal of our partners ensures we are both working with, and acting as, the best partners to create the most value at the right price."

Coca-Cola is also in the midst of a global creative agency review. Ogilvy, which supports Coke Zero and Fanta globally, is also participating in that review for other brands, including the company's namesake soft drink.

The reviews come less than a year after Coca-Cola named Marcos de Quinto its new global CMO.

Contributing: E.J. Schultz

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