SNAPPLE, DIET SNAPPLE BACK WITH HOWARD, RUSH: BIG RADIO BUY IN ADDITION TO TV FROM TRIARC

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Triarc Beverage Group is readying a new TV campaign to break next month for its Snapple line, sans spokeswoman Wendy the Snapple Lady.

The campaign will include branding and product spots, with buys on national network, cable and spot TV to run through the summer. Spot radio will run through fall. The company declined to discuss creative.

STERN AND LIMBAUGH

Snapple has decided to spend heavily on radio sponsorships this year, linking up again with two controversial personalities: shock jock Howard Stern for Snapple and conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for Diet Snapple.

The beverage marketer, a division of Triarc Cos., also is touting Diet Snapple in a print campaign appearing in April issues of magazines that pokes fun at collectibles ads.

Deutsch, New York, handles the estimated $30 million account.

As part of a continuing stream of product extensions, the company is slated to announce today a new six-item smoothie line called WhipperSnapple.

The moves come almost a year after Triarc announced it was buying the declining New Age beverage brand from Quaker Oats Co. for the bargain-basement price of $300 million.

Triarc appears to be slowing Snapple's downslide. Although overall volume was down 5% in 1997, the brand's performance improved in the second half of the year. Snapple had a 15.8% share of the ready-to-drink tea market last year.

"The numbers speak for themselves. Triarc has reversed the precipitous volume declines from the Quaker Oats era and has stabilized the brand," said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest.

STILL AN `AMBASSADOR'

When Triarc acquired the brand, it also made a splash in bringing back spokeswoman Wendy Kaufman, an affable Snapple employee with a strong New York accent. Ms. Kaufman returned in ads, and a new flavor of Snapple was named for her.

But while Ms. Kaufman will continue to serve as an ambassador for Snapple at promotional events, she doesn't appear in the new ads.

"Wendy this year is going to do lots of local appearances," said Steve Jarmon, VP-communications. "We're getting her involved with grass-roots kinds of activities. She draws well."

The new Diet Snapple print ad will run in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, In Style, Parenting, People, Self, Shape and Sports Illustrated.

In the ad, a matronly woman is placing a Diet Snapple in a curio cabinet. "Start your collection today!" reads the ad, which includes a cents-off coupon.

"It's something new and different that felt like it has the little bit of offbeat humor that Snapple is known for," said Mr. Jarmon.

The radio sponsorships represent a "sizeable commitment," said Mr. Jarmon, who declined to say how much the company is spending to link with the radio stars.

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