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LIPTON TEA THINKS SLY AS OL' BLUE EYES EXITS: NEW BRISK AD; NATURAL BREW CHANGES NAME

By Published on .

The Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership is trading in the Chairman of the Board for Rocky in a new campaign for Lipton Brisk, while just plain trading in the name on Lipton Natural Brew.

The partnership's summer campaign for Lipton Brisk, kicking off in May, will continue its clay animation advertising that last year featured a puppet that looked and sounded like Frank Sinatra.

CLAY LIKENESS OF STALLONE

The new effort, which the company is expected to support with $15 million in advertising, uses the likeness and voice of Sylvester Stallone.

Neither the partnership nor agency J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, would comment on the campaign. But those who have seen it said it's similar to the first Sinatra spot, in which the swaggering puppet talks with his manager; that ad carried the tagline, "That's Brisk, baby."

An executive associated with a rival beverage brand who saw the commercial said, "It's a thirst-quenching idea and gives an identity to a price brand. It also breaks the cultural rules of what iced tea advertising looks like-there's nobody wiping sweat off his forehead."

On the strength of last year's campaign, Lipton Brisk posted strong gains, with sales up 20% to $80.6 million in food, drug and mass merchandisers for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, according to Information Resources Inc.

But its success has come at the expense of struggling sister brand Lipton Natural Brew, now changing its name for the second time. Initially introduced as Lipton Original in 1992, the brand's new moniker will simply be Lipton Iced Tea.

Last year, IRI reported Lipton Natural Brew and the earlier version, Lipton Original, recorded combined sales of $49.1 million.

TECHNOLOGY HELPS BRISK

Industry executives said Lipton Brisk benefited from a new "cold fill" technology for making ready-to-drink iced tea that changed its flavor profile to more closely match those made via costlier "hot fill" technology.

Beverage Marketing Corp. VP-Market Research Hellen Berry said ready-to-drink tea grew only 2% in 1996 to 211.4 million cases, well below the 27.8% growth posted in 1995 and the 43.2% jump recorded in 1994. She attributed the slowdown to the fact Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership and Coca-Cola Nestle Refreshment Co. have so quickly dominated the market and pushed smaller players aside.

"Coke and Pepsi are spending a lot and have incredible distribution capabilities," she said. "It's hard for anyone else to compete."

The Lipton brands, however, appear to be outpacing the rival Nestea and Nestea Cool brands.

Lipton's overall share is 33.3%-up from 27.5% in 1995-Ms. Berry said, nearly double that of Nestea's 18.1%-up from 15.3% in the same time frame. Troubles at Quaker Oats' Snapple Beverage Corp. also helped, as the Snapple brand fell from

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