Coke Zero and CP&B No Longer Working Together

MDC Partners Shop Handled Creative for the Brand for Seven Years

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Coca-Cola is ending its longtime relationship with MDC Partners-owned shop CP&B on Coke Zero, Ad Age has learned.

"After an extremely successful seven-year partnership, Coke Zero and CP&B have decided to part ways. We are all very proud of the results we have achieved together and will continue to partner on the Vitaminwater account, as well as other potential projects going forward," the two companies said in a joint statement.

It's a surprising split given the length of the relationship and the fact that the work over the years really helped to establish Coke Zero as a lower-calorie alternative to regular Coke that does not skimp on the taste.

CP&B's work has been ambitious, and at times funny. It included a Super Bowl promotion that tried to make the Monday after the big game a national holiday called "Magnificent Monday," complete with a video to promote the new holiday and a hashtag to promote it, #magmonday; a tie-in with the movie "Battleship" with spots directed by the movie's director Peter Berg, and probably the best-known work, the "Lawyers" spot. To convince a sea of skeptics that a drink with zero calories could actually taste like regular Coke, CP&B hired actors to pose as Coke brand managers to ask real Coke attorneys to file a lawsuit against Coke Zero for stealing Coke's taste.

Marketing spending on the Coke Zero brand has surpassed that of Diet Coke; according to Kantar, Coca-Cola devoted about $35 million in U.S. measured media spending to Coke Zero in 2011, compared to $23 million for Diet Coke. Spending for brand Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Classic still get the largest chunks of Coke's spending, about $100 million and $55 million respectively.

It's not the first time Coca-Cola has made changes to its North American agency roster this year. In April it moved duties for Sprite to Leo Burnett from Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The beverage giant has publicly said it's doubling down on marketing and advertising. CEO Muhtar Kent in early 2012 said Coca-Cola plans to cut $550 million to $650 million in annual costs by the end of 2015, and promised that much of that money will be reinvested in marketing and brand building.

It's unclear if another agency is waiting in the wings to get North American duties for Coke Zero, but in recent times, WPP's Ogilvy, Paris, has been doing more work for the brand, especially with its "Step from Zero" film that got a lot of pass-around.

The film follows the journey of a young dancer who turns his frustrations against his parents into the inspiration for a new dance move, the Toe Tappy, which goes viral and eventually makes him famous. The Toe Tappy was chosen through Coke's "Make It Possible" project, which used a website to invite choreographers to submit videos of their dance moves. The side-by -side foot-shuffling move won, and the casting was also done through an open call for submissions.

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