Four years at the helm of the globe's most recognized brand has proved enough for Douglas Daft, chairman/ceo of Coca-Cola, who announced Thursday he will opt for retirement at the end of this year.

It hasn't been the smoothest of voyages, especially the last couple of years which have seen increasing criticism directed at the beverages giant over its role in nutrition, child health and obesity.

Daft has also had to contend with the rigged Burger King promotion scandal and allegations of a $2 billion fraud within its US fountains division [WAMN: 15-Jan-04]. Both matters are currently under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Steve Heyer, who joined Coke in 2001 to become worldwide president/chief operating officer, is the company's preferred candidate to replace Daft. But outsiders too will be considered.

Says Daft: "I will work with the board [of directors] ... to support this transition process. The board will engage a search firm to assist in this effort and will carefully consider external candidates along with the internal candidate we have in Steve Heyer."

The Atlanta-headquartered colossus has an estimated annual global adspend in excess of $1 billion (€0.79bn; £0.53bn). Its brand portfolio includes Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Vanilla Coke, Sprite, Dasani bottled water, Mello Yello, Barq's and Minute Maid juice drinks.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff