Coca-Cola names WPP as global marketing partner in a US$4B deal that got rival PepsiCo jittery

USA – American multinational beverages company, Coca-Cola has named WPP as its global marketing network partner in a deal valued at US$4 billion

WPP, the world’s biggest advertising company, emerged victorious in one of the largest pitches of the year, which included America’s  IPG, Japan’s Dentsu, and French communications company Publicis. 

Under the contract, WPP will handle Coca-Cola’s media in eight of its nine geographical operating units and the large majority of its creative work, WPP Chief Executive Mark Read said. 

“This is among our company’s greatest ever new business achievements, the largest win in decades, and a fantastic endorsement of the new WPP we have built together over the last three years,” Read added.  

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The agreement is part of Coca-Cola’s refreshed marketing strategy, centered upon its new integrated agency model, designed to break down internal silos, drive innovation and accelerate profitable growth for the brand.   

“As we designed our new marketing operating model, it became increasingly clear that simplicity was critical to successfully operating a vast geographical and diversified business network, which also includes our bottling system,” said Manolo Arroyo, Coke’s global chief marketing officer.  

 “I am delighted to be partnering with WPP as we accelerate our marketing transformation. WPP will bring creative excellence and unparalleled marketing capabilities at a global scale that no other network can deploy.” 

Dentsu which was one of the finalists got consolation after being appointed Coca-Cola as a complementary media partner in selected markets where it bought distinctive strengths. 

The owner of Coke and Fanta soft drink brand further noted that Publicis Groupe and IPG which had performed very strongly during the review process would be included in a strategic roster of firms. 

As such, Publicis and IPG would play key roles in an open-source creative model which was expected to account for one-third of all marketing work, Coca-Cola said. 

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PepsiCo jittery over Coca-Cola- WPP deal 

Coca-Cola’s rival PepsiCo is however not a happy lot as it is also represented by WPP in markets like India.  

“We are awaiting further clarity on the development,” a PepsiCo India spokesperson in response to an inquiry by Et Retail.  

Both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are big spenders on advertising, and spending is expected to further increase as they gear up for next summer after two consecutive Covid-19 waves 

Industry executives following the development told journalists that one possibility could be two separate agencies within the WPP group working on the rival cola accounts in India. 

To ensure full return on investment, PepsiCo could also explore the possibility of aligning with another group, executives said.  

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