WPP wins bulk of global Coca-Cola review

The company will create a bespoke creative and media unit, but some work has been set aside for Publicis and IPG agencies.

This story has been updated with further details about the agency relationships.

The Coca-Cola Company has completed a nearly year-long review of its global marketing assignments, developing a new agency model anchored by WPP.

WPP will create a new bespoke unit called OpenX to be the company’s “global marketing network partner,” handling creative, media and data across the company’s portfolio of brands, bottling network and new ventures like smoothie and juice brand Innocent and coffee brand Costa.

WPP has not said which agencies it would pull talent from or how many new hires it planned to make in order to staff the new unit.

While WPP is taking on the bulk of the multi-billion dollar account, Coca-Cola’s new agency model has three other components.

“Consumers respond to an entire experience – they don’t separate the message from the medium – and that’s why we’ve designed an agency model to be truly consumer-centric and silo-free,” said Manolo Arroyo, global CMO for The Coca-Cola Company. “This model is about seamless integration of the power of big, bold ideas and creativity within experiences, amplified by media and data. It will enable us to create end-to-end experiences that are grounded in data-rich insights and optimized real-time, at scale, as we learn from consumers.”

The second component is Dentsu, which has been selected as its “complimentary media partner in select markets where they bring distinctive strengths,” with Arroyo specifically pointing to its insights, analytics and technology capabilities. Coca-Cola and Dentsu were not able to confirm by press time whether Canada was one of those markets, or the nature of work it would take on, but later clarified to strategy and Media in Canada that the partnership would be within Japan and South Korea.

In addition, Coca-Cola says it developed an “open source” model meant to give it the flexibility to continue sourcing ideas from other holding companies, calling out the performance of Publicis Group and IPG in the review process. While the full strategic agency roster has not been revealed, the company specifically referenced Publicis, Leo Burnett and McCann (as well as Argentina’s Mercado McCann, previously one of the main agencies on the parent brand) in its announcement. The company also told strategy and Media in Canada that the strategic roster will be broken up into somewhere between six to eight specialty categories, with between 10 to 20 agencies in each group, that can pitch or be assigned work across the company’s entire geographic footprint.

The open-source model is expected to account for roughly one-third of work globally.

Finally, a “common data and technology platform” will connect all three pillars of the agency model, as well as Coca-Cola’s marketing teams across five global categories and nine operating units.

Coca-Cola currently spends just over $4 billion USD on marketing globally, though part of the review – which began last December – was to find greater efficiency in its marketing, as it previously worked with over 4,000 agencies globally.