MEDIA MAVENS;SCOTT MCCUNE;AN ARCHITECT BEHIND COCA-COLA'S MEDIA PLANNING CONSOLIDATION

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No marketer works with more ad agencies than Coca-Cola Co. Because it wants ready access to a vast array of marketing resources, the soft-drink company works with some 30 agencies worldwide.

So ad executives were understandably startled when Coca-Cola-which spent $238.2 million in U.S. measured media in 1995, according to Competitive Media Reporting-consolidated media planning for all of its American brands at one agency, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, earlier this year.

But Scott McCune, Coca-Cola's worldwide media director and one of the architects of the consolidation, says there's nothing to be surprised about.

"We are committed to having the best media resource we can get in each country where we operate, whether it be one agency, two agencies or more," Mr. McCune says.

A BIG IMPACT

The 39-year-old Mr. McCune has only been with Coca-Cola for two years, but his colleagues say he already has had a big impact.

Drawing on experience that includes local and entertainment marketing as well as media work, Mr. McCune helped Coca-Cola engineer its massive Olympics media plan and a fall promotion with the National Football League and ABC's "Monday Night Football."

Mr. McCune joined Coca-Cola after spending 10 years at Anheuser-Busch Cos., where his last position was VP-ethnic and geographic marketing. He left to follow his boss, Chuck Fruit, now Coca-Cola's VP-director of media & presence marketing.

Executives say Mr. McCune views media as a brand-building tool in its own right, not just as a way to deliver messages.

"I've been very impressed by Coke's incredible knowledge of their consumer franchises, and by their ability to turn that knowledge into clear directions and strategies for marketing and media planning," says Charlie Rutman, who has worked with Mr. McCune for three months as senior VP-media director at DMB&B's Coca-Cola unit.

"They're very intense and constantly challenging us to show that all alternatives have been explored and that a recommended plan is the best one, but along with that they're very open-minded to our thinking and ideas," Mr. Rutman adds. "I'm beginning to understand why they're a world-class marketing organization."

Choosing DMB&B for the planning account underscored Coca-Cola's desire to consider every option when making a decision.

With only a few small creative projects for Coke in the U.S., DMB&B wasn't necessarily the most logical choice. A more obvious selection would have been McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, which has responsibility for all of Coca-Cola's national media buying.

All that really mattered, though, was which agency could provide the best planning, Mr. McCune says: "We're very pleased with the job DMB&B is doing."

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