COKE CONSOLIDATES MARKETING FOR THREE PRODUCT GROUPS

Retail, Fountain and Juice Will Have Single Chief

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In a move designed to consolidate the marketing management of three different U.S. product groups, Coca-Cola Co. has announced a series of executive and organizational changes.

The move will bring together the previously separate marketing oversight of Coke's bottle and can unit, fountain unit and Minute Maid unit. It is also noteworthy for the manner in which it will integrate fruit juice and soda sales as a single sales stream. The bottle and can unit provides products to grocery and other retail stores, the fountain unit distributes Coke syrup to restaurants and foodservice companies, and Minute Maid sells the line of fruit juice drinks.

Chris Lowe
Chris Lowe, now chief marketing officer for the North American bottle and can unit, will be responsible for the marketing of all three units.

The Atlanta-based company named Sandy Douglas chief customer officer, a new global post, from president of the bottle and can division, and merged its North American bottle and can division with its Minute Maid unit under Don Knauss, president of Minute Maid North America. The fountain division will stay under the charge of its president, Tom Moore.

"The changing nature of customers requires us to work closer with our bottlers to build more efficient and holistic approaches to customer value creation," Steve Heyer, Coca-Cola Co. president and chief operating officer, said in a memo to employees.

More work to do
Tom Pirko, president of consultant Bevmark, likes the merger of the bottled soft drinks units. "Water and juice and all the hybrids really are part of a soft-drink system and they should be sold more like soft drinks as time goes on," he said, but cautioned that Coke has far more work to do.

"From a strategic perspective its really good to keep pumping iron to build this body back up, but many of us are still looking for major rethinking of the business. [Coke] is going to move into the future only when it really begins to innovate and we're still waiting for big news."

It's unclear how the shift will affect Minute Maid agency Doner, Southfield, Mich.

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