- The Coca-Cola Company named WPP as global marketing network partner, according to a press release. A bespoke team called OpenX will execute the CPG giant's new integrated agency model, managing end-to-end creative, media, data and marketing technology across its entire portfolio.
- In addition, Dentsu was named complementary media partner in selected markets, while agencies in the Publicis Groupe and IPG networks have been selected as members of an open-source strategic roster that will account for one-third of all marketing work.
- The new integrated agency model is the result of a massive agency review that kicked off in December 2020 as Coca-Cola sought to drive long-term growth by transforming the effectiveness and efficiency of its marketing. Coca-Cola's ad spend fell 35% amid the height of the pandemic, but the company returned to pre-pandemic spending levels earlier this year.
WPP's appointment as the Coca-Cola Company's global marketing network partner is a major win for the agency holding group, which will manage the lion's share of work for one of the world's largest advertisers. While the CPG giant's ad expenses fell from $4.25 billion in 2019 to $2.78 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic, the company returned to pre-pandemic spending levels earlier this year.
Coca-Cola is touting the partnership with WPP as "unprecedented" in size and scope for both its company and the industry at large. The integrated agency model that WPP's bespoke OpenX will execute is designed to be consumer-centric and silo-free, with a focus on data-driven marketing, Global Chief Marketing Officer Manolo Arroyo said in the press release. Coca-Cola will also use a common data and technology platform that connects the marketing teams across categories and operating units with those of its partner agencies.
"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," Arroyo said.
The CMO pointed to WPP's ability to deliver consumer experiences at a global scale with the agility, speed and data-driven insights required locally as reasons for its appointment. WPP's geographic reach in territories including India, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa gave the company an advantage over Publicis, Arroyo told Ad Age.
Global scale remains a key strength of large ad holding companies, and competitors — including challengers Accenture Interactive and S4 — have worked to increase their international footprint through M&A. Bets on acquisitions and areas like data and e-commerce could help agency holding groups come out of the pandemic stronger than before. The four largest groups — WPP, Publicis, IPG and Omnicom — have been buoyed by the continued rebound of digital advertising and recently posted healthy third-quarter earnings.
WPP will hold about 90% of Coca-Cola's media business, with Dentsu managing media in Japan and Korea as a complementary media partner, Arroyo confirmed to Ad Age. Meanwhile, agencies that are part of IPG (including McCann and Mercado) and Publicis Groupe (including Publicis and Leo Burnett) will be a part of a strategic roster that is still to be finalized, per Ad Age.
Prior to the agency review, Coca-Cola worked with roughly 4,000 agency partners across the globe, including Wieden+Kennedy, Anomaly, McCann and Interpublic's UM, which had held the company's North American media account since 2015. Wieden+Kennedy and Anomaly are being considered for the new strategic roster, per Ad Age.