Coke picks BBH for Singapore creative

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[Singapore] Coca-Cola Co. is quietly moving the creative assignments for Coca-Cola Classic in various markets around the world, mostly at the expense of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide. More reviews are likely.

Last week, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, 49%-owned by Publicis Groupe, won Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Light in Singapore, in a review overseen by consultant R3 Asia Pacific. F&N Coca-Cola split its $6 million Singapore account between Bartle Bogle and, for non-cola brands, M&C Saatchi, after a pitch that also included Interpublic's Lowe & Partners Worldwide and Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide. "We periodically evaluate creative resources in order to get the best work on our brands," said Karen Wong, marketing director, F&N Coca-Cola, Singapore.

McCann was agency of record but had been inactive on Coca-Cola business since M&C Saatchi started doing projects for the company in early 2002. "We will continue to work with the Interpublic Group, and value their expertise," said June Kong, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman in Singapore, despite its division of brands between Bartle Bogle and M&C Saatchi. She declined to be more specific about McCann's role.

McCann has won just one of five Coke brand reviews held in Asia in the last seven months, a seven-agency pitch in China that involved shops from three different holding companies and a Taiwanese creative boutique (see chart, top right).

In Asia's biggest market, Japan, Coca-Cola works with Dentsu and other agencies. Coca-Cola watchers say that the company has an unhappy relationship with McCann in South Korea, and that McCann is likely to lose the $13.4 million account there. McCann executives in the region referred calls to Coca-Cola; a company spokeswoman in Atlanta said she was aware only of the Singapore review.

In the U.S., WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell was named North American agency for Coke Classic earlier this month (AA, Feb. 3). In Latin America, Coke hasn't held formal reviews but has begun assigning project work for the Coke brand to Lowe in Brazil and Argentina, where Lowe's Agulla & Baccetti, Buenos Aires, has become the marketer's biggest agency, a Lowe executive said. In the U.K., Mother handles most Coca-Cola products and has been asked for creative input on Classic.

`no consistency'

"There's no consistency," said an executive familiar with the company. "In some markets ... they appoint agencies on a project basis, so each project becomes a pitch, which McCann may or may not win. Atlanta doesn't have the sway it used to, so there doesn't seem to be a cohesive global strategy."

Coca-Cola spends $980 million-more than two-thirds of its global ad budget of $1.4 billion-outside the U.S., and 68% of its 2002 revenue came from outside North America.

In Australia, Singleton Ogilvy & Mather won Coca-Cola's business after a round of top-secret pitches late last year. It won with the "You know you want it" theme for Coke Classic that's now the center of its $12 million campaign.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson credited McCann with producing the Australian commercials, but according to the credits on the commercial, McCann's sole contribution was a TV producer.

McCann did get a vote of confidence in Germany, where Coke spends $120 million a year on advertising, more than any other market except the U.S. Helmut Sendlmeier, McCann's CEO-chairman in Germany, said he received a letter from the marketer expressing satisfaction with the agency's work.

contributing: hillary chura, paul mcintyre, dagmar mussey

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