Is O&M pitching for Coca-Cola's media account the start of a new trend?

While several small independent agencies today still offer the complete package of creative capabilities tied in with media executions for their clients, this rarely happens with larger agencies in media pitches.

However, WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather is about to set a new trend as reports claim the creative agency is vying for Coca-Cola’s media buying and planning account. O&M is reportedly running against big boys such as MediaCom and Starcom MediaVest for the media account.

According to a statement by Ivan Pollard, senior VP for connections, investments and assets at Coca0-Cola North America, given to AdAge, the brand is not only reviewing its agencies, but its whole agency model.

“We have invited Ogilvy instead of Carat to provide an alternative perspective on the communications strategy,” Pollard said.

The article also suggested the piece of business Ogilvy is running for is called “connections” which could entail communications planning and strategy execution.

Coca-Cola would not comment on Marketing’s queries at the time of writing.

The start of a new trend?

Darren Woolley, CEO of TrinityP3, said Coca-Cola’s move indicated many marketers and advertisers were now struggling with “the ideal agency roster”. However, he noted that while the market was struggling to find the right solution in the face of huge disruption, Coca-Cola’s approach was not ideal as it leads agencies to misinterpret that they need to be offering everything to everyone.

“The mistake they are making is trying to answer this question through a tender or pitch process,” he said. What would be more effective in today’s marketing mix would be to assess and align the current roster structure against the agreed marketing strategy requirements and then create agreed success models.

“Only then should the brands go to market with a clear view of what the ideal looks like and create the best-fit model from what is available in the marketplace. This allows for a very strategic and forensic approach to roster structure.”

Greg Paull, principal consultant at R3, added the move indicated the lines were definitely blurring between content, connections and collaboration.

“If you look closely at what Ogilvy is already doing for IBM and a handful of other clients, there’s a strong connections planning role. Coca-Cola is always looking to lead and not follow – this is just the latest example of that,” he said.

He added this trend of collaboration needed to start first with the creative agencies. However, not many creative agencies have evolved the way Ogilvy New York has evolved.

“The whole agency model is under review,” he said.

“The AOR concept is dead, marketers are now dealing with dedicated digital, social, mobile and analytics agencies. Building integrated marketing has never been tougher, and is a million miles away from the Mad Men days. We believe there will be just as many media agencies (and media owners) offering creative services, as there are creative agencies offering media services in the future.”

Paul Davies, managing partner for Asia Pacific at Roth Observatory International, added this was symptomatic of the fundamental changes going on in the industry in general.

On the media buying side specifically, media agencies have been trying for some time to get into the creative space. Meanwhile, creative agencies have been trying to set up more holistic planning departments and including media neutral channel planning to fill the gap when media is separated.

Like Paull, Davies agreed that Ogilvy, in particular, has been at the forefront in this area.

“The agency set up Neo as a global digital media business back in the early 2000s to help clients exploit digital media. In Asia, it has bolstered its planning capability to add very strong measurement components and looked to bring their strong digital consultancy and analytics closer to the mainstream planning group.”

He added it would not be long before the management consultancies get in on the act in this type of area. Increasingly, clients today are re-evaluating their agency model to see how it should be structured to best suit their needs.

“I would expect more of this and maybe even more extreme models in the future.”