Droga5 Tapped to Handle Coke Zero

Indie Shop Takes Over for MDC Partners' CP&B

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Droga5 has picked up U.S. creative duties for Coke Zero after a review, Ad Age has learned.

It was a fairly swift review, which followed Coke Zero and MDC Partners-owned CP&B parting ways this summer after a seven-year run. The pitch was understood to be led by Pio Schunker, head of integrated marketing at Coca-Cola North America. Droga5 beat out other shops that were vying for the business, which included Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett, MDC Partners'72andSunny, and WPP's Ogilvy.

A spokeswoman for Coke Zero confirmed the move, adding that the agency will "provide advertising, digital and social strategy and creative direction for the brand and work on a variety of key programs, including NCAA Basketball and Football." Agencies either declined to comment or couldn't be reached.

Two of the contenders in the review have existing Coca-Cola relationships. Ogilvy already works on Coke Zero globally, out of the agency's Paris office. Leo Burnett works on Sprite for Coca-Cola, an account the agency picked up earlier this year. WPP-backed Johannes Leonardo picked up global duties for Sprite.

For Droga5, it's a major account win. The shop opened in 2006 and started out working for smaller brands and nonprofits, but evolved to pick up business from larger marketers like Microsoft, Puma and Prudential.

Earlier this summer, the agency picked up creative duties for Australian airline Qantas. It's also been gaining Kraft business over the past couple of years, most recently adding Cracker Barrel cheese to its roster. In 2010, it won the Athenos line of Mediterranean foods, its first Kraft assignment. It later landed MilkBite, and in February it picked up duties to help Kraft launch a new brand of gum.

But Coke Zero will present Droga5 with one of its biggest challenges yet, for a plum marketer.

Coke Zero is getting is getting more spending dollars allocated to it than other brands under the Coca-Cola umbrella, such as 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. Coca-Cola itself still gets the largest portion of spending, having about $155 million put towards it in 2011.

Contributing: Natalie Zmuda, Rupal Parekh