Coke mounts ad blitz in Argentina

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BUENOS AIRES -- While PepsiCo's Argentine bottler faces the financial challenge of its corporate life, The Coca-Cola Co. has decided to put its market advantage to the test in the South American country by investing $130m this year in an aggressive publicity campaign.

Coke and its six Argentine bottlers are hoping to boost the cola's already overwhelming market share of 64% by 170 million liters or 10%, just as PepsiCo's bottler, Buenos Aires Embotelladora S.A. (Baesa), scrambles to pay back $750m in accumulated debt.

The new marketing push will include ads and nation-wide promotions as well as a special emphasis on points of purchase, says Rodolfo Echeverria, marketing manager for Coca-Cola Argentina.

"There will be bonuses and discounts for large clients," said Echeverria. "We are also hoping to create greater community ties - not for economic return but rather to develop projects that will help out in the communities."

The various ad campaigns will continue to link the cola with music and sports. In particular Coke is sponsoring the South American soccer qualifying rounds for the French World Cup in 1998 and the American Cup in 1997 in Bolivia.

In 1996, Coca-Cola and its brands, Sprite, Fanta, Coca Cola Light and Quatro (lemonade) saw sales rise 6% while the soft drink market in Argentina rose by just 3%.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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