Coca-Cola has set the scene for a global agency battle as Leo Burnett and McCann-Erickson lock horns to secure an extra $180m (£113m) a year in business, following the axing of in-house shop Edge Creative.
Edge, which was set up in 1991 by Coke and Michael Ovitz, the chairman of a Hollywood talent agency, was responsible for devising the “Always” and “Enjoy” advertising strategies.
A Coke insider says: “Burnett should be the main beneficiary. But don’t rule out McCann it has been sniffing around the account for years.”
The soft drinks giant has an annual marketing budget of £1bn and a seven-strong agency roster. Leo Burnett, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, D’Arcy, Doner, McCann, Publicis, and Wieden & Kennedy all work on Coke’s US business and in local markets.
But Coke’s vice-president of consumer communications in Atlanta, Ian Rowden, has been quoted as saying: “I am going to look at the roster to make sure we have the right resources for the brand.”
Edge Creative, which also produced the polar bear imagery, worked with Burnett on the “Enjoy” strategy. The ads broke in the UK last month. Coke has yet to decide which agency will produce its new ad campaign, scheduled for the summer.
The company rocked the ad industry in 1992 when it pulled its creative business from McCann and handed it to Edge, then called the Creative Artists Agency. McCann had handled the account for 40 years.
The agency changed its name to Edge when Ovitz left to join Disney in 1995. He quit after only a few months.