Premium brands such as Snapple and Arizona could find themselves drowned out.
Coca-Cola/Nestle has rebranded Nestea as Cool From Nestea and plans a new ad campaign from Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, with a minimum of $10 million in media this summer.
Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership and its market-leading Lipton Brisk, having watched Cool gain market share in recent months without advertising, is ready to roll new ads of its own.
Coca-Cola has made Cool one of its top priorities for U.S. growth. Nestea's sales grew 10% to 15% last year, to about $290 million, and have picked up the pace this year behind distribution gains in convenience stores.
Tom Reddin, director of consumer marketing-noncarbonated beverages, Coca-Cola USA, said it gained seven share points in May.
VIEWED AS INTRODUCTION
"We are declaring a tea war," he said. "We really view this as a new brand introduction. We're going to support it with aggressive introductory media weights that will give us a dominant share of voice in the category."
The ready-to-drink tea market reached $1.7 billion in wholesale sales last year, up 14.8%, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. That was a slowdown from 1994, when the market exploded by 50%.
PEPSI-LIPTON GUZZLES 30% SHARE
Pepsi-Lipton led the market, with a combined share of about 30% for Lipton Brisk and premium Lipton's Natural Brew. Snapple was second, with 17.5%. Nestea came in third at 16.6%.
Coca-Cola/Nestle will aggressively target teens and young adults. Spot TV and radio ads will air in 70% of the U.S. at share of voice levels comparable to those achieved by Coca-Cola's Fruitopia during its national launch, Mr. Reddin said.
Lipton Brisk's new advertising from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, features a miniature Frank Sinatra-a latex puppet-re-energizing after a concert by downing a can of Brisk. "Beyond Cool" is the tagline. Joe Piscopo provides the voice of Sinatra.
Ads will air initially in key regional markets, then go national later in the summer.
Contributing: Laura Petrecca.