Coca-Cola takes ads off four Russian TV channels

Wed Aug 6, 2014 10:23am EDT
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co confirmed on Wednesday it had taken advertisements off four Russian television channels, saying a fall in second-quarter sales had prompted a rethink of its marketing plans.

Russian business daily Kommersant reported earlier that Coca-Cola had stopped placing ads on REN-TV, Channel Five, Domashny and Russia's Defense Ministry's channel Zvezda.

The newspaper quoted sources saying this was probably linked to U.S. and European sanctions over Ukraine because a businessman hit by the Western measures is linked to three of the TV channels in question.

Coca-Cola denied there was any political motive behind its decision to change its TV advertising.

"As a result of the evaluation of Coca-Cola's beverage sales in the second quarter of 2014 in Russia, we have made a decision to change the plan of promotional activities on TV and focus on key federal channels and most efficient channels with regards to our target audience," a company spokeswoman said by email.

"There is no political motive in this decision," she said.

The first two channels mentioned by Kommersant - REN-TV and Channel Five - are part of the media holding company National Media Group, which is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk's St-Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya.

A close ally of President Vladimir Putin, Kovalchuk was hit by U.S. sanctions in March and blacklisted by the European Union last month. Washington said Kovalchuk had been targeted because he was a "personal banker" for Putin and other officials.

Kovalchuk also owns a 25-percent stake in CTC Media, the parent of the Domashny Channel, through Bank Rossiya's subsidiary Telcrest.   Continued...

A logo of Coca-Cola is seen through a fence outside a plant of the company on the outskirts of Moscow, August 6, 2014.  REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov