Coca-Cola enlists TeleVest to craft global TV plan

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Coca-Cola has asked TeleVest to help the soft-drink giant develop a worldwide TV programming strategy, according to executives familiar with the assignment.


Initially, TeleVest is likely to pinpoint TV series in various markets, probably in Europe, for Coca-Cola either to buy or sponsor. Shows acquired by the soft-drink marketer likely would be licensed to TV networks in exchange for ad time.

TeleVest, agency of record for Procter & Gamble Co.'s $1 billion TV buying account, is the biggest buyer of TV ad time in the U.S.

The new assignment "is certainly an interesting foot in the door for [TeleVest] with Coke," said one agency media executive who asked not to be named. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, is Coca-Cola's U.S. TV buyer; TeleVest's MacManus sibling, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, handles media planning for Coca-Cola and other U.S. and global work.


Though TeleVest is primarily a U.S. buying operation, it is no stranger to the worldwide programming arena. For P&G, the shop brokered programming alliances with Viacom's Paramount Domestic Television and Sony's Columbia Tristar Television Distribution unit. TeleVest has also been heavily involved in various programming deals with P&G in Europe.

TeleVest executives could not be reached for comment. A Coca-Cola spokeswoman insisted the assignment is not new, saying, "TeleVest has been finding programming overseas for us for the last few years." Asked to name some of those shows, the spokeswoman said executives who knew that information were unavailable.


But an executive familiar with the TeleVest/Coca-Cola relationship, when told of the soft-drink maker's response, said, "That's just not true. This is a new assignment. TeleVest has not worked with Coke in acquiring any programs before."

Media executives familiar with the international TV market said it is a smart move for Coca-Cola to get into an ownership position with programming in international markets.

"Unilever's been doing it for years," said one of the executives. "Years ago, I believe, they got the rights for `Wheel of Fortune' and `Jeopardy!' in some European markets, and it's worked out very well for them."


In most international markets, there are TV networks but not local TV stations. Advertisers that own the rights to a TV show will license it to a network, which will sell ad time for the program. In exchange, the advertiser will get commercial time put into a "time bank" with the network. So if Coca-Cola owns a show and licenses it to France's TF1 network, for example, the agreement could call for the soft-drink marketer to get 10 minutes a week in commercial time spread across other programming.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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