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Soft-Drink Giant Adopts Tactics of Rival Pepsi

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Leading soft-drink marketer Coca-Cola Co. revealed details of a new, integrated advertising campaign for its flagship brand, Coca-Cola, today  that features
Photo: AP
Actress Penelope Cruz is one of the stars that will appear in Coke's new campaign.
popular celebrities, musicians and sports stars to reach consumers. The campaign debuts on Jan. 13, during the Ameican Music Awards broadcast on ABC.

'Genuine and real'
"Coca-Cola Real," the new tagline, aims to connect the cola with values dear to consumers today. "Consumers today ... want brands that are genuine, authentic and real," Chris Lowe, chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. "These are the values they associate more strongly with Coca-Cola than any other brand."

Using celebrities to promote soft drinks is a longtime strategy of Coke's rival PepsiCo, which in mid-December replaced pop star Britney Spears with Beyonce Knowles of Destiny's Child for its flagship brand, Pepsi. Ms. Knowles will appear in TV, radio, online and point-of-purchase advertising.

Coke's new efforts will feature actresses Penelope Cruz and Courtney Cox Arquette; her husband, the actor David Arquette; Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong; boxing great Muhammad Ali, and Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart, among others.

  R&B singer Mya and hip-hop artist Common collaborate for the campaign in a performance of "Real Compared to What," a newly written song based on the 1960s piece, "Compared to What." The entertainers will appear in the first ad, set to air Jan. 13.

"It was important for us to involve celebrities who are genuine,

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who really connect with others and, most importantly, are comfortable with being themselves," said Esther Lee, Coke's chief creative officer.

Falling sales
Both PepsiCo and Coke are battling falling sales of their rival brands, Pepsi and Coca-Cola Classic, respectively. Sales of Coca-Cola Classic decreased  2% in the States in 2001.

Over the past year, Coke management and its advertising agency partners have struggled to come up with a marketing approach that resonates with consumers. Recent efforts for Coke, such as its "Opus" effort featuring a dancing, swaying bottle cap that was created by Coke's longtime lead agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, have fallen flat.

Berlin Cameron
In June, seeking to reach a younger audience, Coke asked WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell for insights on the Coke brand. That led to the collaboration of Berlin Cameron and McCann-Erickson, both headquartered in New York, and the creation of the new campaign. Berlin Cameron has in the past created advertising for other Coke brands such as Dasani and Mello Yellow. Interpublic was named global creative consultant for Coke Classic in December 2000.

Much rides on the success or failure of the new campaign. Steve Heyer, named president and chief operating officer in December, has overseen marketing since joining the company in mid-2001 from AOL Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System. A rise in sales of the company's prime brand would be a coup for Mr. Heyer, widely viewed as the successor to current CEO Douglas Daft, as management has struggled mightily in recent years to gain market share.

  Advertisements in other media such as radio, print, online, cinema and outdoor will appear throughout the first months of 2003.

Coke spent $155 million in 2001 on Coca-Cola, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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