Burnett, Edge craft Coke creative

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Coca-Cola Co.'s first new Classic ads of the next millennium will come from Leo Burnett USA, Edge Creative and Wieden & Kennedy. Those roster shops will unveil the ads to Coke bottlers Jan. 12.

Burnett and Edge each created four spots in the new pool, while Portland, Ore.-based Wieden contributed another two Olympic-theme spots, according to executives close to the soda giant.

The ads are said to be heavily brand-driven with a cohesive feel to the body of work.


McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, developed the platform and strategy from which the long-awaited ads were created. But McCann didn't contribute any commercials to the initial pool; it did present creative concepts to Coke, but they were rejected.

Coca-Cola's U.S. media budget for Classic is about $115 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

For Chicago-based Burnett, the new pool of commercials marks an expansion of assignments from Coca-Cola. The agency hasn't had extensive Classic work, save for creative on the brand for Hispanic consumers. The shop also handles the Surge, Fruitopia and Minute Maid brands for Coca-Cola.

The tagline for the new Classic work is "Enjoy." One executive close to the situation said the new tag allows the agencies to take Classic, the nation's top-selling soda, to a stronger brand position. The beverage giant hopes to use the new push as a way to end its long-running price battle with archrival Pepsi-Cola Co. and to instead fight the cola wars over brand attributes.

Another goal of the work is to make the different spots work together more than they have in the past, said another executive close to the company. As a result, the campaign should be much more memorable, the executive said.

The agencies declined comment, referring calls to Coke. A company spokesman said only that six of its roster shops continue to work on creative for Classic, and that none have been taken off the brand. Additional TV spots are expected to appear later in 2000 as part of the company's global pool of advertising, the spokesman said.

Also expected to be shown at the Jan. 12 bottlers meeting in Atlanta are more than half a dozen spots for Coca-Cola's sports beverage, PowerAde, created by McCann.

The meeting will be the first major bottler session under new leadership at Coca-Cola. Last week, Douglas Daft, a 30-year company veteran who rose through the ranks in operations in the Middle and Far East, was tapped to lead the company.


He replaces M. Douglas Ivester, who in a surprise announcement said he would resign as chairman-CEO after just two years. Mr. Ivester exits the company next April, but Mr. Daft immediately assumes the president-chief operating officer post, which had been vacant. The move came after a tough year at Coca-Cola that included a contamination scare in Europe and a decline in earnings.

No changes are expected in the new strategy for the company's flagship Coca-Cola Classic brand, which was crafted in the past few months.

"Everything is in place and moving forward," the spokesman said.

The new ads replace the long-running "Always" campaign from Edge, based in Los Angeles. That effort has been widely viewed as tired, and not strong enough to lift sales in the flat cola category.

One Coca-Cola bottler said he's looking forward to seeing the new work. "Everybody is looking for something to rally behind," he said. "Coca-Cola is our most important asset. Everyone is looking to have more excitement and fun and punch behind the brand."

Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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