Coca-Cola launches giant $4.2bn creative and media reviews

Once upon a time Coca-Cola reviewing its creative and media accounts would have been by far the biggest story in adland. It still might be of course, as the soft drinks giant is reviewing its global arrangements for both, currently $4.2bn of spend. Some tech advertisers spend much more these days.

Coke itself is struggling, with sales down this year in the pandemic following a fall back last year too. In its statement on the reviews it has also mentioned the dreaded digital transformation: “We are on a journey to fundamentally transform and dramatically improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our marketing investments. By improving our processes, eliminating duplication and optimizing spend, we will generate significant savings to fuel reinvestment in our brands.

“Media and creative agency services require significant investment from our brands. They are also a crucial component of our ongoing digital transformation journey to drive our business.”

Sounds like it means more digital and less conventional above-the-line work. Which may well open Coke’s doors to the likes of Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital. New kids on the block like the UK’s New Commercial Arts (recently appointed by Vodafone) may get a look in.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers is advising on the creative review, MediaSense on media. Incumbents include Anomaly in the US (only appointed in August) with Wieden+Kennedy handling some other brands and, on media, Dentsu International’s Carat, Group M’s MediaCom, IPG Mediagroup’s UM and Publicis media agency Starcom.

Although Coke has produced some fine work in recent years it’s had the look of a project-based advertiser, a far cry from the days when McCann’s sledgehammer dominated the airwaves. Pepsico has out-performed it although it too has been switching brands around.

The bosses of the big holding companies will no doubt be dusting off their ‘Team Coke’ propositions over the holidays, a welcome change from contemplating redundancies anyway.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.