Coke's pursuit of South Beach Beverage Co. is a prime example of a good idea that Coke couldn't quite pull off. For a few months, Coke romanced the trendy maker of vitamin-spiked SoBe drinks. Then PepsiCo swooped in during October and in short order closed a deal.
Last month, when Pepsi swung and missed in its effort to buy Gatorade marketer Quaker Oats Co., Coke jumped in. But once again, Coca-Cola couldn't quite cinch a deal. And Pepsi ended up with Gatorade.
This month, Coca-Cola hired Interpublic as global "creative consultant and idea generator" on flagship Coke. Coca-Cola and the holding company-parent of long-time Coke shop McCann-Erickson World-wide-will form an "advisory council" to "establish consistent standards and messages" for the brand.
Coke insists the decree from headquarters is entirely consistent with its approach of telling managers around the world to "think local, act local." But this latest scheme suffers from Coke's fizzy logic. It sounds more like act local as long as you find a way to act on headquarters' global positioning.
In hiring Interpublic, Coke insists it's not firing any of its agencies, which include big and small shops outside of Interpublic. We'll see. Let's see how smoothly non-Interpublic local shops implement Interpublic's big ideas. Any bets on whether Interpublic will recommend shifting work to Interpublic shops?
Coke's half-step with Interpublic seems destined to waste energy on inside politics as managers divine how "local" they should act and as non-Interpublic shops mull whether to accept or block Interpublic's initiatives.
Enough of Coke's muddling through. Let's see Coca-Cola be the leader, execute deals and act boldly as a marketer.