Deutsch consolidation

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Cadbury Schweppes' Snapple Beverage Group has consolidated its estimated $9 million-plus account at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch despite talk inside rival Coca-Cola Co. that it doesn't like competitors within its agency orbit.

Snapple's ad agency since 1997, Deutsch will add interactive work and promotions to the advertising and public relations it already handles. Interactive had been at San Francisco's SF Interactive, while promotions had been spread among several shops, according to Michael Sands, chief marketing officer.

"When you are going up against hundreds of millions of dollars from other companies, you want to make sure your message is not diluted across different mediums," he said.

Neither he nor Deutsch executives would indicate how much the additional work would net Deutsch. The agency also in July picked up promotions business from Cadbury's Motts unit for its Mauna Lai juice, Mr & Mrs T and Holland House mixers, as well as Margaritaville margarita mix and Holland House mixers.

Snapple is the country's third-largest non-carbonated beverage company after PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. Snapple's agency consolidation occurred over the summer despite Coca-Cola executives' misgivings about Interpublic's work on stronger competing brands (AA, Aug. 6). Coca-Cola executives, however, have appeared more concerned about Interpublic's sizable work for rival PepsiCo than about its efforts for smaller Cadbury.

Coca-Cola, the world's No. 1 beverage marketer, is one of Interpublic's five largest accounts. Interpublic is global "creative consultant" on Coca-Cola Classic. The holding company bought Deutsch in November.

Deutsch helped rebuild Snapple in the late '90s after the line was decimated by three years as part of Quaker Oats Co. Quaker, which bought the line in 1994, unloaded the then-faltering brand to Triarc Cos. in 1997 at a loss of more than $1 billion. Cadbury acquired the business last November.

Val DiFebo, managing partner-director of client services at Deutsch, said Interpublic had assured her that sibling agencies' work for Coca-Cola would not affect Deutsch's relationship with Snapple. Mr. Sands also said he was told there are no problems. "We have been assured that we are OK," he said.

Coca-Cola didn't return phone calls seeking comment by deadline.

Mr. Sands said he wanted an integrated team rather than squabbling agencies to work on his brand, the country's No. 1 juice drink and No. 3 tea drink. He said Snapple's recent under-the-cap promotion turned out to be incongruous with its "Little Fruit" ad campaign and that consolidation eliminates agency infighting and leads to a more consistent message.

"When you take out of the equation one agency vs. another ... you make the focus just creating a good idea," he said.

Ms. DiFebo agreed consolidation offers consistency. "People form a relationship with the brand, and consistency of message and being true to the heritage are critically important," she said.

In addition to Snapple's juices and teas, Deutsch also handles the company's Elements brand, manages public relations for Mistics and does events and PR for Venom. Elements and Mistics are new-age beverages; Venom is Cadbury's energy drink.

In U.S. tea sales for the first quarter, Snapple fell 9%, compared to an equal drop for much larger PepsiCo and a 4% slump for Coca-Cola, according to Beverage Digest. Among juice drinks, Snapple volume was down 5%, while Coca-Cola, maker of Fruitopoia and Minute Maid, fell 25%. PepsiCo saw major first-quarter sales increases of 57% and 23%, respectively, for two juice brands, Fruitworks and Tropicana.

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