Coke GB reviews public relations as diet crisis takes hold

LONDON - Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft-drinks firm, is to stage a winner-takes-all UK corporate comms and public affairs pitch as it responds to public pressure for food firms to assist healthy diets.

The review threatens the work of at least three of the firm's existing agencies.

It is understood that, as part of a joint initiative between Coca-Cola GB and bottling arm Coca-Cola Enterprises, incumbent agencies Lexington Communications, Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe are repitching for the brief, which includes reputation issues surrounding obesity.

Ogilvy PR Worldwide and at least one other agency are also thought to be involved in the contest.

Coca-Cola GB public affairs and comms director Tim Wilkinson issued a statement saying it was looking "at other potential expertise to ensure that [Coca-Cola] has the optimal input to support the business". No one at Coca-Cola Enterprises, which retains Lexington, was available for comment.

The move to consolidate its corporate and PA account comes in the same month that the company cut growth forecasts and admitted it had been slow to spot the trend towards healthier drinks.

Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Neville Isdell cut the firm's profit-growth forecasts for next year from 11%-12% to "high single digits".

Ratings agency Fitch last week said Coca-Cola's arch rival PepsiCo was better positioned to respond to the "significant challenges" both firms faced from pressures to adopt healthier diets.

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