Publicis to manage Coke's crisis communication in Europe

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LONDON--Publicis, the French advertising group, is to launch a special crisis communication campaign for Coca-Cola Co. in what it is widely regarded as a long overdue response to the contamination scare that hit Belgium and France this week.

Publicis, Brussels confirmed its involvement in the crisis management campaign. It is understood that the French network, which handles Coke's advertising account across Europe, will be launching a similar public relations effort in France, where at least 50 million Coke bottles have already been withdrawn.

Details of the campaign are expected this weekend, according to a Coca-Cola account exec at Publicis in Brussels.

Execs at the agency's Paris offices were not available to confirm their involvement with a PR project in France.

The Atlanta-based cola giant has been heavily criticized for its handling of the crisis which has led to withdrawal of Coke drinks in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands following reports of people getting sick after drinking Coca-Cola. Its crisis management has compared unfavorably with that of bottled water brand Perrier, which in 1990 was seen to react more swiftly to a similar health scare.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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