AQUAFINA TAKES THE MIDDLE VS. UPSCALE WATER BRANDS: PEPSI-COLA'S MIDPRICE ENTRY READIES FIRST TV EFFORT

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Pepsi-Cola Co. is slated to launch its first TV effort for Aquafina in the next two weeks in Dallas and possibly Milwaukee, with an eye toward expanding the advertising to other markets.

In the commercial, the bottled water takes pride in its midprice positioning and pokes fun at a pricier competitor.

Aquafina, first test-marketed in 1994, has been rolled into about 90% of the U.S. during the past year at a time of strong growth for bottled waters.

The 30-second TV spot is the first major Aquafina work from BBDO West, Los Angeles, which was awarded the business last fall. Radio and outdoor advertising will follow.

A Pepsi spokesman said it's premature to speculate about potential TV spending for the brand. The marketer spent $3.8 million on print advertising for Aquafina last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

TAKING AIM AT EVIAN

The commercial -- alluding to a pricey brand it labels "Envie" -- takes a jab at Evian, the premium-price, upscale water from Great Brands of Europe, and features a new tagline: "Pure water. No additives. No attitude." The prior tagline, used in the print campaign last summer, was "Take me to the water."

In the new spot, a muscular man bicycles, runs and exercises while he asks, in voice-over, "Why do I get up when others are just coming home?" "Why do I keep going when my body screams stop?" and "Why do I deny myself all fatty foods and drink the most expensive bottled water?" His answer, each time: "I want to live forever."

As he swigs from a bottle labeled "Envie" with the subtitle "Live forever," an Envie truck runs him over. Only his shoes remain. Then comes the Aquafina name and tagline.

"The strategy is water for the rest of us," said Tom Hollerbach, president-CEO at BBDO West.

TARGETING THE MIDDLE

While other waters such as Evian have been positioned as upscale brands, the campaign targets the middle of the market, "people who are more balanced, are more centered and have a more realistic vision of the world," Mr. Hollerbach said.

Aquafina sales have grown significantly as distribution has broadened, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. In 1997, the brand's wholesale-dollar sales increased 126% to $52 million. Overall, bottled water sales rose 9.6% last year, with Perrier Group's Poland Spring and Arrowhead brands leading the market in first and second place.

Growth is strongest in the middle tier, said Gary Hemphill, VP-information services at Beverage Marketing Corp.

That's where Evian's sister brand, Dannon Natural Spring Water, also is trying to grab customers.

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