From Left: Coca-Cola's Pio Schunker, Katie Bayne, Peter Schelstraete and Marc Mathieu
Squinting through the glare of awards from spots like "Happiness Factory" and "Videogame," it's almost hard to see that Coca-Cola had almost lost its way. Prior to this, the Coke brand around the world had suffered from serious case of "Who am I?" and was close to becoming just one of a zillion other cans in the refrigerated section of the local grocer. But, then, something happened. Coke came back with a strong contemporary voice that retained and reclaimed the nostalgic fizz of the past, welcoming a new generation to the "Coke Side of Life."
How did the prodigal soda find its way back home? Clearly it must have been a long, hard path given the Atlanta-based organization's reputation in the last decade as an innovation repellant. This is the company that gave the boot to Steven Heyer, former President/COO, a high profile "change agent" who was responsible for steering Coke into industry-changing entertainment territory with CAA and the solo sponsorship of American Idol. But not before he helped to lay the groundwork for a creative revolution. In 2002 he brought in agency vet Esther Lee, co-founder of DiNoto/Lee, to steer a newly established in-house creative department for North America, and later, for worldwide. Around the same time, Heyer also brought to the U.S. Coke global marketing vet Marc Mathieu to manage the Coke trademark.