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International: FCB wins Diet Coke review

21-December-2002
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International: FCB wins Diet Coke review

Coca-Cola Co. has tapped Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago and New York, to handle its estimated $10 million to $12 million Diet Coke account. The review had been narrowed to FCB and sibling Lowe, New York, the incumbent.

The Diet Coke review had stretched on since November because Coca-Cola executives were said to have found the presentations made by Lowe and FCB uninspiring. Earlier contenders had been Interpublic's Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and Gotham, New York, though shops not aligned with Interpublic had circled the account once word of Coke's displeasure seeped out.

The hard-fought victory is welcome news for FCB, which lost an estimated $350 million in rival PepsiCo business after the agency's parent, True North Communications, was acquired by Interpublic last year. To compensate FCB for the hit, Coca-Cola eventually handed the agency the accounts for Powerade, Dasani and Minute Maid sodas and juices, but only after bucking angst from Coca-Cola executives working on those brands and a PepsiCo lawsuit to block the move.

FCB had handled Pepsi's Aquafina, Gatorade and Tropicana as well as many brands for Quaker Oats Co., which PepsiCo had purchased.

Diet Coke's next ad work is expected to continue in the vein of Lowe's "Do What Feels Good" campaign, with more of an emphasis on the doing of things, one executive said.

FCB's CEO, Brendan Ryan, declined to comment on the campaign. Mr. Ryan said FCB executives from around the globe had come together to pitch the account.

Several people familiar with the brand have said billings are unlikely to exceed $12 million, as the marketer fights to boost sales for its flagship brand, Coca-Cola Classic.

Diet Coke was Lowe's biggest Coca-Cola account, though it also has worked on the beverage giant's Planet Java and Mad River brands.

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