Berlin poised to snare leading Coke Light role

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Coca-Cola Co. is believed to be poised to award international advertising responsibilities for its Coca-Cola Light brand to Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York.

The account shift could cover Europe, Latin America and other non-U.S. markets. The U.S. account of Diet Coke will remain with Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. Global spending on the sibling brands is estimated at $100 million.

Wieden has handled Coca-Cola Light in Latin America and parts of Europe. But the agency's work for the brand in Latin America was poorly received, according to one executive close to the company. The executive said that work has already been replaced by Berlin creative.

Although U.S. creative is still at Wieden, Berlin is also believed to have its eye on that account.

"Coke is a promiscuous client," said one executive who has worked with the company, referring to the beverage giant's tendency to throw a lot of its assignments up for grabs among its extensive list of roster shops.

Berlin is already on Coke's roster; it handles Bonaqua and Dasani waters, and Diet Sprite, Fresca, Mello Yello and Nestea Cool.

Both Berlin and Wieden referred calls to Coca-Cola. A Coke spokesman said no changes have been made on Coke Light, and said Wieden remains agency of record for Diet Coke.

CLASSIC'S SIX SHOPS

Another executive close to the company wondered whether the beverage giant was pulling another "Classic." The reference is to the flagship Coca-Cola Classic brand, which draws work from at least six shops.

"Maybe they're going the same way with Coke Light," the executive said.

The Coke Light re-assignment outside the U.S. is believed to have followed a contest between Wieden, Berlin and possibly others. Wieden won the Diet Coke assignment from a predecessor agency to Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, in December 1998.

Coca-Cola Light has been a brand name in non-English speaking countries since its foreign launch in 1983.

Coke has been expanding the reach of Coke Light over the past few years, switching most of the European, Latin America and African Diet Coke marketing efforts to Coke Light. The drink is still called Diet Coke in North America and in the Middle and Far East.

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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