AGENCIES CASTING NEXT CLASSIC;IF OVITZ DEPARTS CAA, CAN COKE BE FAR BEHIND?

By Published on .

Don't all line up at once.

If Creative Artists Agency Chairman Michael Ovitz jumps ship for the chairmanship of MCA, agencies hope they can snag some Coca-Cola Classic business from the talent shop though at least one agency executive believes the chase isn't worth the trouble-Mr. Ovitz will stay put.

Rumors have been rampant in Hollywood that Mr. Ovitz is negotiating with MCA's new owner, Edgar Bronfman Jr.

It's no secret the personal relationship between Mr. Ovitz and Coca-Cola Co. Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman was one key factor in Mr. Zyman's decision to move the creative portion of the Coke Classic business nearly three years ago to CAA, Beverly Hills, Calif., from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. Without Mr. Ovitz at CAA's helm, agencies are hoping for another chance.

Contenders are believed to be Fallon McElligott Berlin, New York, which handles the Diet Sprite assignment, and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which has the new OK soft-drink. Some industry sources say Fallon is already a leading contender to win Fruitopia and possibly Cherry Coke from Chiat/Day, New York, after that agency merges with Omnicom Group's TBWA this summer.

A Coca-Cola spokesman said there's no move expected for Fruitopia and Cherry Coke. But agency executives believe that could change when the agency merger is finalized.

Lowe & Partners/SMS, which has Diet Coke, Sprite and Fresca in the U.S. and Fanta in Europe, isn't on the A-list for additional business. Said one Lowe executive: "Sergio thinks we already have too much of the Coke business."

Meanwhile, McCann is unlikely to win back the creative business, said Coca-Cola agency executives, given Mr. Zyman's strategy of scattering brand assignments among creative hot shops.

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