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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 15:00 GMT
Coca Cola ad drive seeks sparkle
Pepsi and Coke vending machines
Cola wars: Coke hopes for more cool
Soft drinks giant Coca Cola hopes to inject extra fizz into its flagship brand with the launch of a new advertising campaign.

Both companies will be intensifying their efforts behind their flagship colas

John Sicher, Beverage Digest

Coca Cola is hoping it has found new imagery and slogans to tackle competition from arch-rival PepsiCo after its last big campaign flopped.

It has reportedly signed up Hollywood stars Penelope Cruz and Courteney Cox Arquette, who appears in comedy show Friends, as well as singer Mya and rapper Common. American icon Muhammad Ali, the ex-world heavyweight boxing champion, is also taking part.

Stuart Smith of Marketing Week told the BBC's World Business Report that the choice of celebrities shows Coca Cola is trying to appeal to youth and ethnic minorities.

The new adverts will echo Coca Cola's most famous campaign of forty years ago, which declared Coke Classic was "The real thing".

The advertising drive comes as both Coca Cola and PepsiCo are struggling with falling sales in the $30bn (18.6bn) US carbonated drinks market.

Flat market

Although Coke Classic remains the US' biggest selling soft drink brand, sales slumped 2% last year while overall sales of the firm's fizzy drinks were also slightly down on 2001, according to Beverage Digest.

Coca-Cola's new campaign will focus on promoting Coke Classic in the US market.

The brand is vital to the firm's success: sales of Coke Classic and its variants, Diet Coke and Vanilla Coke, made up 60% of the drinks giant's worldwide total last year.

Coca Cola is reportedly hoping to portray its brands as young, hip and down to earth at the same time. Penelope Cruz reportedly burps in one advert.

Unusually, the firm's head of marketing, Steve Heyer, had a hand in directing some of the TV adverts, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The first film, featuring Mya and rapper Common, is due to be shown during ad-breaks in the American Music Awards broadcast next week.

Stars on board

Coca Cola's recent attempts to burnish its image have proved embarrassing. Its short-lived "Life Tastes Good" campaign made little impact and was withdrawn as unsuitable after the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Rival PepsiCo has outpaced Coca Cola with celebrity signings in recent years, including teenage pop star Beyonce Knowles and pop diva Britney Spears.

In emerging markets, Pepsi is ahead in the prized Chinese market, while economic problems in Latin America hurt Coca Cola last year.

Both firms have diversified into fruit juices, sports drinks and bottled water. Sales of these brands have grown rapidly and offer higher profit margins.

Coca Cola has not said how much it is spending on the new ads.

"Both companies will be intensifying their efforts behind their flagship colas," said Beverage Digest editor John Sicher.

"They are the biggest brands and stopping their volume decline can do a lot for overall growth."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Vicki Broadbent
"Rival Pepsi is also expected to launch a drive for its cola product later this year"
  Stuart Smith, Marketing Week
"Celebrity endorsement is exactly the strategy used by their arch-rival Pepsi Cola."
See also:

28 Mar 02 | Business
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