TOGA! WRAPS SELF IN FUN AS BEVERAGE COURTS COLLEGES

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The $1.1 billion iced tea and fruit juice market is showing signs of congestion. Just ask Snapple Beverage Corp., whose stock took a 26% dive within hours of this month's announcement that second-quarter income rose just 56%.

Already feeling the pinch from big marketing spenders such as Pepsi-Lipton Tea Partnership's Lipton Original and Coca-Cola Co.'s Fruitopia, Snapple also is being squeezed from below by a host of wanna-bes.

Among the latest: Saratoga Spring Water Co.'s Toga!, packaged in 16- and 22-ounce long-neck glass bottles. Colorful comic book-style labels, which track the lives of four friends in their 20s, will change story lines every six weeks. The five flavors-Pink Lemonade, Island Splash, Paradise Punch, Iced Tea with Lemon and Diet Iced Tea with Lemon-cost $1.19 to $1.29 a bottle.

The Team Toga! product, like other newcomers including Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons' Arizona, eschews traditional advertising. It depends instead on a $500,000 marketing effort including sampling, promotional events and word-of-mouth to target the urban and college markets.

"Most of us are young and we wanted a product that was fun," said Saratoga Spring Water President Robin Prever. "... I was a big comic fan and I liked the idea of the cartoons."

The drinks, available since June in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston, expand to Atlanta, California and Florida in coming months and go national by June 1995.

To create a buzz, toga-clad students in July took to the front steps of the New York Public Library to give away 5,000 bottles of the drinks to kick off the marketing campaign, themed "Toga! Summer." Sampling on college campuses during registration and orientation is planned.

Between now and Labor Day, windsurfing and rollerblading events will be held in major cities. Rubenstein Public Relations, New York, handles event publicity.

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