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News 9 Nov 2021 - 4 min read

'Biggest pitch in our history': Coca-Cola picks WPP to run $4bn global account, shakes up agency model with open-source creative, centralised data and tech platform

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer
Coca-Cola's Manuel Arroyo and WPP's Mark Read

The Coca-Cola Company's Manuel Arroyo and WPP's Mark Read.

WPP has won the nine-month mega pitch for The Coca-Cola Company’s account, managing media, data and some creative. MediaCom will handle media for all markets except Japan. The account includes a ‘strategic roster’ of creative agencies that Coca-Cola hopes will enable it access the best creative minds in each market. CEO Mark Read said the pitch was the "biggest in WPP's history".

What you need to know:

  • Coca-Cola has named WPP as its global marketing partner, managing a $4 billion account covering end-to-end media, data and creative after a nine-month pitch process.
  • The new agency model employed by Coca-Cola involves Dentsu in some markets and a strategic roster facilitating access to different creative by markets.
  • A common data and technology platform will operate across the entire Coca-Cola company.
  • MediaCom will handle the local media account, believed to be worth more than $40 million in billings, as well as media in all markets except Japan. 

After a nine-month pitch, Coca-Cola has landed on WPP as its global marketing partner, handling a $4 billion end-to-end media, data and creative account.

WPP pipped Publicis Groupe and IPG, to win what Coca-Cola described as an “unprecedented” partnership in terms of depth and breadth, covering more than 200 countries and territories.

MediaCom will take on media responsibilities locally, for an account believed to be worth more than $40 million. IPG's UM has held the local media account since 2014, winning it from Ikon and retaining it in 2019. 

The new agency model has four parts:

  • WPP will create a bespoke team, called OpenX, to serve as the Global Marketing Network Partner for Coca-Cola’s brands.
  • Coca-Cola named Dentsu as its Complementary Media Partner to add different capabilities in select markets.
  • A strategic roster of approved agencies will form an open-source creative model, giving access different creative units in different territories.
  • A common data and tech platform will connect marketing team across its five global categories, nine operating units, Global Ventures and Platform Services to WPP’s OpenX, Dentsu and the creative roster.

“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 chief marketing officer 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 optimised real-time, at scale, as we learn from consumers… 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.”

Arroyo thanked Publicis and IPG and noted Coca-Cola would continue to work with them both as part of the open-source creative model, which is expected to account for one third of all marketing work.

WPP CEO Mark Read said the company is “delighted” with the appointment.

Internally, Read told staff in an email WPP would likely do most of Coca-Cola’s creative work: “The Coca-Cola Company’s global marketing review is widely regarded as the biggest pitch in the history of our industry… WPP will handle nearly all of The Coca-Cola Company’s media worldwide (eight of its nine geographical operating units – every market except Japan) and the large majority of its creative work. We will also be responsible for production, data, technology and social globally.”

Read said the win was “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”.

A spokesperson for GroupM was not available to comment. 

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