SNAPPLE, FCB SPLIT AMID DIFFERENCES ON WHO UNTIED KNOT: IF DEUTSCH CAN WIN ACCOUNT, MISTIC WILL NEED NEW AD AGENCY

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Snapple and Foote, Cone & Belding officially split Friday, but it's hard to tell who fired whom.

In a rancorous parting, the Chicago agency rushed out a press release saying it resigned Triarc Cos.' Snapple less than an hour after informing Snapple Senior VP Marketing Ken Gilbert by voicemail that it quit.

Mr. Gilbert, meanwhile, maintained the agency "must not open its FedEx packages," because the marketer had dismissed FCB "before May 30," the date of the FCB release.

Triarc said the account will now go into review.

DEUTSCH'S `RIGHT' TO PITCH

Mr. Gilbert said Deutsch, New York, which has created a new commercial featuring former spokeswoman Wendy Kaufman, has "earned the right" to pitch the business. He wouldn't name other contenders.

If Deutsch does get Snapple, that will throw its estimated $6 million Mistic account into review. "We don't want one agency" for both brands, said Mr. Gilbert.

Mr. Gilbert said the company will make a decision in the "next couple of weeks," and that Triarc will consider only New York agencies.

In its resignation, FCB cited a previously unmentioned conflict with client Cadbury Beverages that didn't exist under Snapple's former owner Quaker Oats Co.

FCB CITES CONFLICTS

"There are conflicts between Triarc's beverage business and FCB Chicago's longstanding relationship with [brands such as Crush, Squirt and Canada Dry from parent company] Dr Pepper/Seven Up that prompted this decision," FCB Chicago President Ron Bess said in a statement.

But Triarc's treatment of the agency was believed to be the catalyst. Executives close to FCB said Triarc failed to tell the shop that Deutsch was working on the spot with Ms. Kaufman, said to have been first proposed by FCB. It will be officially unveiled at a press event this week to introduce a Snapple tropical-flavor line extension.

According to an agency executive, FCB had been about to film a Wendy spot when Triarc nixed it, citing production costs. Weeks later, it charged Deutsch with a similar commercial.

FCB, moreover, maintains Snapple's new owner was seeking to cut the shop's compensation and sharply pare spending on the brand, an allegation denied by Mr. Gilbert.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca, Mercedes M. Cardona.

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