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PEPSI ONE: PHIL MARINEAU

By Published on .

When a new sweetener won long-awaited approval from the Food & Drug Administration last July, Phil Marineau wasted no time. That day, the president-CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America announced the marketer would launch Pepsi One, a new diet cola made with the sweetener, Ace-K.

It was the first new national brand for Pepsi in six years, and Mr. Marineau's first big splash since joining the company in late 1997. The former Quaker Oats Co. executive-credited with building up Gatorade- backed the cola launch with a $100 million marketing blitz.

The headline-grabbing effort helped wake up the sleepy diet cola segment of the $54 billion U.S. soft-drink business, and signalled a new aggressiveness at the nation's No. 2 cola company.

Pepsi One was introduced in October, backed by TV spots from longtime Pepsi agency BBDO Worldwide, New York, featuring exuberant Academy-Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. The brand is positioned as a cola that doesn't taste like diet, and is designed to appeal to young men and women ages 18 to 34 who have resisted the older-skewed diet cola category.

Mr. Marineau calls the cola in the distinctive silver can the most successful launch in Pepsi-Cola's history. He says it will meet the ambitious goal of becoming a $1 billion brand by the end of its first year.

Pepsi One played a big role in driving up supermarket sales for Pepsi diet drinks 18.2% in the four-week period ending March 28, according to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Pepsi-Cola says the drink has grabbed a 1.5% to 2% market share in the competitive beverage business.

A new pitchman was added this spring, MTV's bad-boy talk-show host Tom Green.

Mr. Marineau's trick will be to maintain the momentum without scaring away

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