Coca-Cola to boost local efforts for Classic via revamp

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Coca-Cola Co. is in the process of changing assignments for the marketing staff of its flagship Coca-Cola Classic to better link national initiatives to local markets.

Executives are now working on promotional programs for specific sections of the country and for specific times of year, rather than focusing solely on particular consumer segments like teens, blue-collar workers, Hispanics or African-Americans.

"It's a more integrated approach," said a Coca-Cola spokeswoman. "Our system is so broad that to maintain leadership at the local level we really have to tie in the field."

No staff cuts or additions are associated with the changes, she said.

FRENETTE'S MISSION

It's the increased focus on local marketing that Charles Frenette, Coca-Cola's new chief marketing officer, is charged with carrying out. His appointment, announced last month following the resignation of high-profile marketing chief Sergio Zyman, came as the assignment changes already were under way.

"We are taking a little different approach to the market," said Mike Jensen, brand manager-national consumer marketing. "We've made it a little tighter in terms of taking a more integrated look at the brand calendar as a team."

Mr. Jensen is in charge of March through August, the period of the big Coca-Cola Card promotion, the first project to emerge from the changes.

BIGGEST LOCAL EFFORT

The $75 million promotion is the beverage giant's largest local-marketing project to date with links to 9,500 promotional partners across the U.S. (AA, March 16). Print advertising already has started; TV kicks in with a heavy national schedule April 13, with four 30-second commercials from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis.

"I'm responsible for the program, promotions, all advertising, consumer segments, media and everything that happens for that time frame," he said. "I truly become more of a general manager, which is what brand managers should be, but for a very specific period of time."

At the same time, he retains his expertise, teen marketing, and lends it to colleagues working on other time periods, he said.

The TV commercials for the Coca-Cola Card represent a shift in approach from the typical ads touting promotions. These spots, targeted at teens, use scenarios where the card plays a supporting rather than starring role, and where virtually no instructions are offered beyond a toll-free number and an Internet address. The ads can be tailored for local use.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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