Magazine article Marketing

Coke's Central Focus

Magazine article Marketing

Coke's Central Focus

Article excerpt

Coca-Cola's European restructure will aim to bring more consistency to the region.

Questions are being raised over Coca-Cola's future marketing strategy in light of the expected centralisation of its European marketing operations into a London hub as part of a wide-reaching restructure.

The company currently uses a roster of agencies from countries across the region, all of which contribute to its activity. As a result, its advertising often varies by market, as it is selected by marketers at a national level, rather than a region-wide one. According to one former employee, the existing set-up has not been a success and has caused frustration at its global HQ.

'Europe has always been a nightmare for Coke,' he says. 'The restructure indicates that Atlanta has lost patience with these local, feudal European markets because of how they want to operate.'

Local self-interest

Moreover, the former employee believes that many of the markets in Europe operate, on occasion, purely for their own benefit, without considering a wider regional picture. 'The Diet Coke Duffy activity was never going to work outside the UK, as a Welsh singer in a supermarket would not appeal to any other audience. It was an idea that cost Coca-Cola money.'

Such issues mean that the introduction of a more centralised, consistent marketing approach is long overdue, he claims, citing arch-rival Pepsi's success at using strong creative ideas that translate across multiple territories. 'When you look at Pepsi you see big, high-profile assets leveraged across Europe and beyond. Pepsi is better than Coke in that respect, and it is only a matter of time before it hits Coke,' he adds.

Coca-Cola was unable to comment on the restructure, but even some of its roster agencies admit that the current arrangement does not make for overly strong marketing. One source describes it as causing 'a lot of wastage'.

He adds: 'There is always conflict between the central marketing team, regional teams and then the creative excellence team, which fits into the middle. Projects can come from anywhere in Europe, and the fact that it moves around so much shows they are not clear about what to do. …

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