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There's a joke Charlie Rutman tells his staff of 46 at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' Coca-Cola Co. planning unit: "The honeymoon was over so fast we never saw the heart-shaped bathtub."

Not that Mr. Rutman is complaining. In fact, he calls his relationship with Coca-Cola "a very good marriage."


Coca-Cola last May moved all media planning from its individual creative agencies and media shop McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, to DMB&B, New York. Mr. Rutman began as senior VP at DMB&B and media director for the business last June.

"It's been 15 months characterized predominantly by overseeing the start-up of.*.*.one of the biggest, and arguably the most complex, media consolidations in the country," he says.

In addition, Mr. Rutman helped oversee the recent launch of Surge, a citrus soda aimed at the youth market with creative from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which a DMB&B spokesman said is doing very well in a highly competitive market.

While one might expect hard feelings between DMB&B and McCann, which lost planning for flagship Coke Classic, both Mr. Rutman and Chuck Fruit, Coca-Cola's VP-director, strategic media and presence marketing, insist this is not the case.

"We are extremely pleased. . . with the way in which the DMB&B planning unit and the McCann buying unit interact with each other," Mr. Fruit says. "Charlie, with his communication skills, is a very important reason for that success."


Mr. Rutman and his staff weren't given much time to gear up for the busy first year ahead of them, since Coca-Cola does its planning during the summer months.

Couple that with the usual concerns of staffing and systems, and one begins to understand why, as Mr. Rutman says, his hair hasn't gotten any darker during the last 15 months.


"There was no off-season; there was no spring training," he says. "It was, day one, the team is on the field and we're playing for keeps."

That entails "moving in a direction from simply delivering messages-which is what I would call the traditional role of media-to making a better connection with consumers with our messages," he says.

It means planning not only for the flagship Coca-Cola Classic, but for all of the Coca-Cola domestic brands, including Sprite, Diet Coke, Fresca, Mello Yello and 11 others. Including all the domestic brands, Mr. Rutman oversees a budget of around $450 million a year.


Overseeing the flagship Coca-Cola brand alone takes "an incredible level of attention to detail and analytical perseverance," says Mr. Rutman, who calls Coca-Cola "probably the most recognizable brand in the world.

"On the one hand, [Coca-Cola] can be all things to all people," he says. "And yet, in the marketing world, if you're all things to all people, you're nothing to nobody."

Mr. Fruit says Mr. Rutman is well-suited for this brand management challenge.

"He understands what brands are about, and understands the importance of the media plan reflecting the true character of the brand and its strategy," Mr. Fruit says.

Much of Mr. Rutman's preparation comes from his 14 years at Bates USA, New York, most recently as exec VP-media manager. While there, he dealt with such brands as Wendy's, Magnavox and CBS Television.


His future may include helping Coca-Cola capitalize on previously underused media, since, as Mr. Fruit says, "he has helped us look at the in-store environment as a broader media opportunity than we traditionally considered it to be."

Whatever the future holds, Mr. Rutman is optimistic.

"My opinion is, I think we're off to a great start," he says. "I think we're off

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