PUBLICIS JOINS COKE'S ROSTER CAFFEINE-FREE DIET COKE WILL GET GLOBAL AD CAMPAIGN

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Coca-Cola Co. stayed true to its new credo that "creativity knows no borders," naming Publicis Conseil to develop a worldwide campaign for Caffeine-Free Diet Coke and Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola Light, as the brand is known in some European countries.

The assignment to the Paris agency gives the brands their first major ad support in years with an integrated effort to include TV, print and point-of-purchase materials. Spending is not known, but the company claimed it will be a "major" effort.

In the U.S., slightly more than $1 million in measured media was spent on the caffeine-free brand last year.

Previously, the products were part of the Diet Coke business, which remains with Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, for English-speaking markets and Lintas Worldwide, New York and Paris, for non-English speaking countries. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, continues to be in charge of media buying.

Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola's chief marketing officer, called the Publicis assignment "yet another demonstration of our continuing efforts to very aggressively seek out a variety of creative resources for all of our products around the world."

Those creative resources increasingly are including non-U.S. agencies outside the Interpublic Group of Cos. family. For example, Casadevall Pedreno, Barcelona, is handling the marketer's Aquarius sports drink in Europe, and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, is defending Coca-Cola against the growing threat of private-label supermarket cola brands in the U.K. and elsewhere.

While McCann remains the lead agency for Coca-Cola Classic, a variety of others, most notably Creative Artists Agency, Beverly Hills, Calif., have done project work in the past three years.

Publicis President Maurice Levy said, "The decision to add Publicis to the Coca-Cola roster is the result of many months of contacts and discussions."

Caffeine-free colas overall have been losing sales for several years in the U.S., although they are still relatively new to Europe. Caffeine-Free Diet Coke has about a 2% share of the $49 billion U.S. market.

Melanie Wells contributed to this story.

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