QUAKER, COCA-COLA INTRODUCE COLORFUL DRINK CONTENDERS: SPORTS BRANDS, LEADERS TRY EYE APPEAL IN NEW CAMPAIGNS

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The beverage market is kicking off '98 with an emphasis on color that would make Martha Stewart proud.

Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade brand is adding a lavender drink, called Riptide Rush, to its year-old Gatorade Frost line and an opaque black thirst-quencher named Midnight Thunder Gatorade, with a blackberry flavor.

Coca-Cola's Co. launch of its bright green Surge with a TV spot on last year's Super Bowl XXXI may have helped boost the color trend.

TEEN DEMOGRAPHIC

Industry observers said that teens, a crucial demographic in the market, respond to news about their product choices, and new colors can be part of that.

For Gatorade, consumers "taste with their eyes more than their tongues," said Rachel Ellis, director of product offerings for the brand.

The actual formula for the sports drink is the same no matter what the flavor, so color takes on a special importance as a marketing tool, she said.

Ms. Ellis said research for Gatorade Frost showed consumers responded to light and dark colors.

However, color alone isn't enough to drive a brand, she noted.

"It's the look and taste and image that's going to create an attitude for consumers," she said.

TV IN MARCH

New TV spots for both new Gatorade products are in the works at agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, to break in late March.

The Frost line, now with four items thanks to the lavender, is marketed separately from base brand Gatorade.

Coca-Cola's Surge, now in 60% of the country, is being expanded into an additional 30%, including New York and Los Angeles. It is a competitor to Pepsi-Cola Co.'s strong-and light green-Mountain Dew.

Surge is being supported with a new TV spot from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

EYE-POPPING PACKAGING

Packaging and advertising also are becoming more eye-popping with their use of color. For example, Surge's label is a bright green and red, and stands out on grocery shelves.

Pepsi-Cola is now introducing its new blue packaging in the U.S. Two new TV commercials for Coca-Cola Classic, targeted to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, highlight the brand's signature red color.

The soft-drink leader has been spotlighting red for years; the new creative from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., plays on red.

ROSES FOR CLASSIC

One spot, showing fans watching a figure skater complete her program, ends as words appear on the screen, "Celebration begins with a color." The screen then fills up with a huge bouquet of red roses.

Andrew Conway, a beverage analyst for Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co., said Coca-Cola will likely emphasize its trademark color more now as Pepsi touts its new blue packaging and graphically stronger globe icon.

"Pepsi's blue is a point of differentiation from Coke's red," he said.

The advertising launch of Pepsi's new packaging includes four commercials from BBDO Worldwide, New York, and made its national debut Jan. 25 on NBC's Super Bowl broadcast.

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