Who rules the masters of the universe?
Wall Street analysts, that's who. As no less a global captain of industry than Coca-Cola's E Neville Isdell well realizes.
On Thursday the beverage behemoth's ceo unveiled his grand strategy - The Coca-Cola Manifesto for Change - to some 200 analysts, financial consultants and business reporters.
This promises global volume growth over the long term, crystallization of the company's marketing, a boosting of corporate morale and cultivation of talent within the company's ranks.
To this end Coca-Cola will increase its global marketing expenditure - $1.2bn last year - by up to $400 million (€309.48m; £216.5m) in 2005 and beyond. Proclaimed Isdell: "This is something I believe this company deserves."
But lest the money men fear the term 'Manifesto' implies something dangerously drastic, Isdell was reassuring. 'Manifesto', he explained, "is a call to action", not a radical change in strategy but in execution, all centered around "the revival of an icon".
Isdell did not enter the lion's den alone. A number of Coke henchmen escorted their emperor across the Rubicon, including worldwide chief marketing officer Chuck Fruit.
Fruit was in confessional mode. "Our advertising has not been as consistently effective in recent years," he admitted, adding that "the iconic brief asks for communications about simple, human insights around one big idea."
Students of the late Jean-Paul Sartre might have understood Fruit's thrust. The rest of his audience had to content themselves with two new Coke commercials.
The first has a female voiceover speaking of the kindred spirit of human beings, while visuals depicting the cycles of life unfold before viewers' eyes, culminating with an onscreen super that reads: 'The power of one.'
And for those still floundering in the whirlpool of Atlantean metaphysics, a second spot uses a grunge-rock version of 'White Christmas' as background to traditional, contemporary Christmas scenes in which people are shown performing small acts of kindness. The tagline? 'Let's make this season a little better.'
A sentiment even investment bankers would understand.
Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff