SPRITE LEADS THE PACK IN SOFT DRINK GROWTH

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Sprite, Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper led the soft drink market in percentage sales growth in 1995, according to data released last week by competing trade organizations.

Although Beverage Digest, working with Maxwell Report, and Beverage Marketing Corp. compile sales data independently, both showed that Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite increased sales 16% last year-tops among leading brands.

Pepsi-Cola USA's Mountain Dew brand saw sales increases of 11% and displaced Diet Pepsi as the nation's No. 5 brand in Beverage Marketing's ranking. Dr Pepper/Cadbury's Dr Pepper brand recorded a 6.9% sales gain.

GROWTH CONTINUES

For all three, strong growth continued a trend from 1994.

"Sprite moved past 7UP in 1993, and it continues to pick up steam," said Bob Bertini, Coca-Cola media relations manager.

Mountain Dew and Sprite have achieved their growth primarily through effective targeting of teen-age males.

Mountain Dew's "Been there, done that" campaign, created by BBDO Worldwide, New York, is widely viewed as one of the best in the soft drink business for its clever brand differentiation.

Similarly, Sprite's 2-year-old "Obey your thirst" campaign, created by Lowe & Partners/SMS, has given the entry a strong brand identity.

"Sprite has transcended the lemon-lime category and become a mainstream soft drink," Mr. Bertini said, noting that Sprite garnered its highest brand-image scores ever last year.

"Obey your thirst" spoofs traditional advertising in the recognition that male teens "don't want to be marketed to," Mr. Bertini said.

Dr Pepper/Cadbury's credits advertising and increased bottler and trade support for its growth. Young & Rubicam handles Dr Pepper advertising.

TOTAL SALES UP 3%

Total U.S. soft drink sales rose 3% in '95, slower than in '94 when sales were up 4.4%, according to and Maxwell Report. Beverage Marketing said total '95 sales jumped 3.9%. Data include sales from all channels.

Coca-Cola Classic saw sales increases of 5% in the U.S. last year, while Pepsi-Cola sales rose 3.5%.

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