COKE'S NEW PUSH: 'LIFE TASTES GOOD'

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(BOSTON) -- Coca-Cola Co. unveils its "Life Tastes Good" global advertising campaign April 22 in a push to show the small -- but significant
Watch three of the Coke spots in RealPlayer. Click the links below:

Spanish Wedding

Long Island Railroad

Backstage at Rock Concert


-- part its flagship plays in people's lives.

The first phase of the expected campaign includes 31 30-second spots that will be shown around the world, although only a handful of ads will run in each market. Six will run in the first U.S. flight, with a five to eight appearing in different global markets. The ads will run in more than 200 countries.

About half of the spots are variations on a handful of story lines: a teenager on the way home from a concert with friends; baby-sitters with their charges; and rock stars being revived for an encore. They were produced in 14 countries for their specific markets and are part of CEO Doug Daft's "think local, act local" philosophy that is intended to make the world's No. 1 soft drink more pertinent locally.

Coca-Cola said Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, produced the U.S. ads but that other Interpublic shops, including New York's Amster Yard, handled other work. Some of the ads are humorous; others are sentimental and reflective.

Fighting Pepsi's pop sensations
This is a crucial push for the 115-year-old company, which needs to boost sales and lure younger drinkers who are developing brand loyalties and are liable to be swayed by rival PepsiCo's breezy, bouncy work for Pepsi-Cola that features the likes of pop sensation Britney Spears.

"It's important because it's Coca-Cola, and

Coca-Cola is who we are," said Jan Hall, senior vice president-consumer marketing.

Chief Marketing Officer Steve Jones said he believed this campaign would help "bring Coke to a space where we want to be," and that the campaign -- which will appear on network and cable TV along with print, outdoor, radio and interactive -- will be more subtle than previous work that rolled out with red and white banners, dancers and bands.

The U.S. effort will include a heavy initial rotation. The spots will run on TV shows such as Ally McBeal, Dawson's Creek, The Practice and Friends, as well as on Spanish cable Telemundo and Univision. A spokesman for the company said the initial push could reach more people than the previous "Enjoy" and "Always" campaigns.

'About everyday optimism'
"We don't want a jingle. We want to be contemporary," Mr. Jones said in an interview with AdAge.com. "That's not what [people] really want to see and hear. That's not a good brand model for Coke. ... It's not an icon. This is about everyday optimism."

Stories were presented to the 14 hubs -- Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the U.K. and U.S. -- with each deciding if particular stories were applicable for their market and how they should be shot.

In the rock concert spot, a boy remains awake on a train after the show while his group of exhausted friends sleep. Different ads based on the same theme will appear in the U.S. and Germany, though each was shot on local trains or subways and in the local genre. The German version, for example, is grittier than the American spot. For the Asian market, a Chinese pop phenom headlines the concert, while Jakob Dylan, lead singer for the Wallflowers (and Bob Dylan's son), appears in the U.S. ads.

'Spanish Wedding'
In "Spanish Wedding," a young Hispanic bride being preened on a hot summer day takes a delicate sip of Coca-Cola from an adoring flower girl.

The hubs could also shoot their own spots if they meshed with the overall Coke theme, executives said. They said future Coke ads could be produced in this vein, with different creative hubs handling work for their region of the world.

Employees are 'energized'
Mr. Jones said the work has energized employees at the Atlanta-based company. They need a little invigoration. The company has been fighting declining stock prices, and at its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, it lowered growth forecasts that analysts had criticized as too optimistic.

Also Wednesday, the company said worldwide unit growth rose 4% in the first quarter, although it was just 1% in North America -- its largest market. Net income for the quarter was $863 million, compared with a $58 million loss in the same quarter a year ago.

Last year, the Coke saw volume rise 0.5%, compared with a 1% drop for Pepsi-Cola.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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