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When coca-cola hired Creative Artists Agency in the fall of 1991 as its "worldwide media and communications consultant," tremors were felt up and down Madison Avenue. There were dire predictions: CAA would soon acquire or start a full-service marketing operation; other talent agencies would join CAA in the ad business; advertisers would flee traditional agencies for alternative sources of creative inspiration. Now everyone can relax.

We wouldn't want to underestimate the need for agencies to define their future role. But those who today fret about attacks from above by strategic consultants would do well to look at the lessons learned by the hand-wringers of yesterday. The exodus to talent agencies never happened, and while CAA produced some entertaining Coke work out of the box, its "Always" campaign eventually went flat. Coca-Cola's challenges as a global marketer also made clear its need for an agency partner, able to create and execute on a worldwide scale.

As we first reported earlier this year and confirmed last week, Coca-Cola is set to return to more traditional ways. This is good news for the agency business, and a smart move by the soft-drink giant. And just to put fears of a talent-agent takeover permanently to rest, look no further than former CAA boss Michael Ovitz. When he wanted an ad agency for his new CheckOut.com venture, he turned

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