COKE FEATURES CLASSIC IMAGES

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The more things change, the more they stay the same at Coca-Cola Co.

While the cola giant continues to toss creative assignments around like rice at a wedding-amid claims it's listening to consumers more than bottlers for ad feedback-the company is relying on classic icons to anchor its new "Always" campaign.

The Atlanta-based company last week quietly appointed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London's hottest creative agency, to an unspecifiedproject for its main brand. Bartle, best known for work on Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Levi's 501 jeans in Europe, resigned its $5 million U.K. soft-drink account, A.G. Barr, to become a Coca-Cola agency.

Also, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles has picked up two assignments and joined Coca-Cola's creative free-for-all as the marketer's first global agency outside Interpublic Group of Cos. One project is believed to be for a new product in North America; another is for international work.

Coca-Cola Senior VP-Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman declared last week he plans to further lengthen the agency roster.

Already holding assignments are: Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, which contributed two spots promoting Coca-Cola Classic's new plastic contour bottle; Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif.; and the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

Longtime Coca-Cola Classic handler McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York-resigned to its client's frenzied outsourcing and adapting to its diminished creative status-is said to have shrunk its established Coca-Cola Classic group since it is only doing project work and no longer has sole responsibility for the brand.

What hasn't changed is Coca-Cola Classic's "Always" campaign, a more honed version of last year's creative grab bag. The latest campaign, about 30 spots largely from Creative Artists Agency, Beverly Hills, Calif., relies heavily on the brand's trademark red disc, on which a variety of lettering is imposed, and contour bottle.

"The main thing we learned from the first round of `Always' spots is that people respond best to the same physical and emotional iconography that we have been building on for years," Mr. Zyman said.

As part of that effort, Coca-Cola is slowly converting much of its packaging to showcase the contour bottle, including new graphics on its cans and multipacks to include the venerable symbol.

Laurel Wentz contributed to this story.

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