COKE'S AD PLANS UNCERTAIN IN DANONE WATER DEAL

Will Agencies Be Left High and Dry in Joint Venture?

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BOSTON (AdAge.com) -- Coca-Cola Co. said it's too early to tell how its deal with Groupe Danone will affect marketing and advertising of the French marketer's bottled water brands.

In a partnership announced Monday, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drink company, will handle U.S. marketing and production for Danone's retail bottled water and source water business, including Dannon.

Danone is contributing production facilities and licensing for brands such as Dannon and Sparkletts, while Coca-Cola contributes $128 million for a 51% stake of the venture.

Dannon water's agency could not be determined by press time, while WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, handles Coca-Cola's Dasani.

The deal does not include Dasani, the No. 2 bottled water brand in the U.S. behind rival PepsiCo's Aquafina, and Danone's Evian water brands.

The deal makes Coca-Cola the country's No. 2 bottled water marketer with 17.6% share, behind Nestle, whose brands include Poland Spring and Zephyrhills, and ahead of PepsiCo, and should improve its position in the discount water segment without hurting the success of Dasani.

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