Premium taste: Minute Maid's new "Bite into It" theme stresses the taste of the made-from-concentrate orange juice. MINUTE MAID AD BUDGET WILL TRIPLE TO BOOST BRAND $50 MIL PROGRAM AIMS TO CHANGE PERCEPTION OF ITS ORANGE JUICE

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Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid Co. is peeling the wraps off a purported $50 million push to change consumers' taste perception of its ready-to-drink orange juice.

It's a gamble whether the campaign, which the company claims is the largest in its history and more than three times last year's budget, can turn around the business for the segment's perennial No. 3 player.

LIKE A FRESH ORANGE

The company, renamed Minute Maid from Coca-Cola Foods in October, breaks the network TV and print effort in January. Themed "Bite into it," the message is that Minute Maid's proprietary reformulation makes it taste like biting into a fresh orange.

Despite Minute Maid touting a unique taste, it's avoiding competitive comparisons in ads and promotion.

"We are not communicating anything about the process," said Wayne Luciano, marketing director. "We are focusing on the taste."

One reason may be because the brand is made from concentrate, while some of the hottest marketing activity in the category is from not-from-concentrate brands.

"Premium orange juice is defined by taste, not the way it's processed," contended Mr. Luciano, adding that, according to A.C. Nielsen Co. data, chilled orange juice from concentrate, year to date, was up 5.4% in dollars vs. 4.6% in the not-from-concentrate segment. He noted that Minute Maid research found 92% of consumers purchase orange juice in frozen or from-concentrate form.

`BRAND-DRIVEN'

"The growth in not-from-concentrate was primarily brand-driven," he said, noting that as high ad spending levels from competitors Tropicana's Pure Premium and Citrus World's Florida's Natural brands leveled off, so have the segment's sales.

Minute Maid's campaign is the first major effort from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which took the business from Lowe & Partners, New York, last spring. It uses the icon of an orange with a bite taken out of it-similar to the symbol, an orange with a straw poked in it, that Burnett created for rival Tropicana when it handled that account.

The "Bite into it" theme runs through the TV campaign, which Minute Maid said will run for 30 weeks. The 60-second spot shows people comparing the juice to a fresh orange. Packaging carries the message with flags saying "New, sensational taste. Like eating a fresh, ripe orange."

SWEEPSTAKES COMING

Consumer promotion includes sponsorship of First Night celebrations in eight cities; and a national sweepstakes starting Jan. 1 that offers as a top prize a $1 million bed and breakfast located in an orange grove.

A separate TV and print effort supports the sweepstakes while a major in-store sampling effort to reach 3 million people at 9,500 retail locations is planned. Louis London Advertising & Sales Promotion, St. Louis, handles promotion.

This isn't the first time Minute Maid has said it would substantially increase spending. Last year, the company said it would double ad spending in 1996 to $25 million but ended up spending only $6 million in the first half, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

In the ready-to-serve orange juice race, Minute Maid is a poor third behind Tropicana, which holds 39.8% of the $2.2 billion category, with sales up 6.5% for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 6, according to Information Resources Inc. Private label is second with a 24% share and sales up 5.7%; and Minute Maid trails with a 19.3% share, with sales up 1.5%.

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