No Coke, Just CAA

A 15-year relationship between Coca-Cola and Creative Artists Agency is reportedly slipping away.

The breakup is considered a possible end to an experiment between Madison Avenue and Tinseltown.

Coke signed on as a CAA client to gain a larger profile in Hollywood, giving the former agency of Michael Ovitz free rein to handle much of the soda company’s advertising, according to Brandweek. The early ’90s move from NYC’s Madison Avenue ad firms to Hollywood was considered groundbreaking.

CAA landed product placements for Coke, notably on “American Idol,” and had a number of stars pitch the cola, Brandweek said. There were also recent tie-ins with two Harry Potter movies.

The relationship soured in recent years, though, apparently in part because of CAA’s rising retainer. Coke execs are trying to bring marketing in-house and cut expenses, according to the magazine.

“Their relationship is not producing for them,” a source told Brandweek. “It seems that ‘Madison and Vine’ is not working as well as claimed. They more or less consulted to Coke, gave irrelevant advice, and were rarely listened to.”

One factor in the divorce was the 2002 “Sprite Liquid Mix Tour” featuring Jay-Z and 311, which Coke reportedly saw as a disappointment.

Sometimes the agency component made things more awkward rather than less. At one point, Coke wanted to secure Ryan Seacrest for an endorsement deal, but talks were snagged because Seacrest is repped by William Morris Agency, Brandweek said. Meanwhile, the advertising for Coca-Cola has moved back to Madison Avenue.

“I don’t think these agencies ever really lived up to what they promised,” an anonymous film company exec told the mag. “Coke is only the first one. I think we’ll see these agencies that are over-promising and not delivering losing more clients.”