Beat Out Publicis and Interpublic's McCann Erickson

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Coca-Cola Co. has named WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide to handle a Coke creative assignment in Mexico, its second-largest market after the U.S., according to executives familiar with the matter.

Review winner
Ogilvy was chosen following a review that included various roster shops such as Publicis Groupe and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson Worldwide, which continues as Coke brand's primary agency in Mexico.

The move comes as Interpublic, Coca-Cola's longtime creative partner in the U.S. until a 2001 shift in the Atlanta-based company's executive suite and abroad, was expected to gain back business it lost over the past several years.

Spending for the assignment was not disclosed.

Ogilvy, which handles the marketer's Sprite and Fanta brands in the U.S., referred a call to Coca-Cola, which did not return calls. A McCann spokeswoman declined to comment other than to say McCann continues as agency of record.

Interpublic status
Interpublic has been expected to pick up business it lost during the tenure of Steven Heyer, the marketer's president and chief operating officer who is departing after being passed over for the CEO spot.  Prior to Mr. Heyer's arrival in May 2001, Coca-Cola signed a global alliance with Interpublic, naming it worldwide partner on brand Coke. Mr. Heyer dismantled much of Interpublic's relationship with the soft-drink giant, giving work to independents and rival holding company WPP Group.

Though this latest assignment to Ogilvy is a blow to Interpublic's ego, the long-term impact is unclear, as Coca-Cola frequently has its agencies pitch various individual assignments.

McCann's latest loss
This is, however, McCann's latest loss of Coke business around the world. Since the beginning of 2003, the agency has lost Coke assignments in the U.S. (to WPP's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York), France (to Havas' BETC Euro RSCG) and the U.K. (to independent Mother).

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Lisa Sanders contributed to this report.

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