Josta, made with guarana extract, is a cross between a fruit drink and a soft drink; it's reddish in color, has lower carbonation and more caffeine than colas.
The expansion-bringing Josta into New Orleans; Louisville, Ky.; and areas outside Washington-may presage a national rollout. More markets, including Detroit and Los Angeles, are expected to be added this summer.
"It's creating consumer excitement here, something that's been lacking in the soft-drink market lately," said Bryan Quarls, director-marketing and brand development at Delta Beverage Group, Pepsi's franchise bottler in the New Orleans area.
The Josta test-marketing began last summer in Hackensack, N.J., and hit Phoenix in December. Pepsi executives would only say the Phoenix test was successful.
Pepsi isn't the first to bring the guarana extract to the U.S. All-American Bottling, Oklahoma City, markets a guarana brand called Guts. Also, three Brazilian brands have U.S. distribution.
Brazilian folklore portrays guarana as an aphrodisiac. Pepsi isn't touting that on labels or advertising, but the company has made sure the media are aware of it.
Pepsi is using radio and outdoor advertising, along with event sampling, to introduce Josta. TL Partnership, Dallas, is working on sampling and other promotions, while BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles radio advertising. Pepsi handles outdoor in-house.
Pepsi has been active in new-product testing this spring, recently putting a cold-coffee drink, Frappuccino, on the West Coast and launching a test of Sun Drenchers 10% juice drinks in Dayton, Ohio.