TOPLESS SUMMER

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For most people summer begins on Memorial Day. For beverage and soft-drink marketers, it starts earlier, with a barrage of promotions designed to boost sales volume.

This year, music and under-the-cap promotions are two main lures to gain share of stomach during the all-important summer months, which account for 33% of the industry's total annual sales volume.

"Summer promotions and summer results are extremely important to how well a beverage company does this year," said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. "For Coke and Pepsi, volume is the name of game."

So, too, is it for Triarc Beverage Group's Snapple, which sees 40% of its sales focused in summer. For this crucial season, Triarc is putting the bulk of its $30 million budget behind a new, slapstick advertising campaign and "Twisted Cap Tricks Tour." Also tipping its cap is Coca-Cola Co., with a $15 million campaign supporting its pop-top instant win game; and rival Dr Pepper/Seven Up's music-laden "Play-N-Win" cap promotion. Pepsi-Cola Co. is uncapping a new "Choose your music" effort backed by a $15 million ad campaign that breaks next week.

SNAPPLE'S BETTER FRUIT

Snapple's new ads, from Deutsch, New York, broke last week on national and spot TV and bring back the Snapple fruit characters introduced last year to comically depict how the company raises good, all-natural fruit with no preservatives (AA, May 1). The first spot chronicles the health rigors that the fruit endure to become better fruit, from physicals to massages to urine tests. The second follows the fruit as they journey to India to learn about making natural tea. For this execution, the lemon "character" plays a major role as complement to tea, with scenes of it applying a bindi and encountering a sacred cow.

"The fruit give Snapple a nice way to parody the product while reinforcing the product message," said Steve Jarmon, VP-communications at Triarc. While the company executives wouldn't confirm a budget for the campaign, Mr. Jarmon acknowledged the spots account for the lion's share of the brand's $30 million in annual spending.

In its under-the-cap promo, Snapple gives consumers the chance to win one of 8 million prizes including $10,000 cash and Snapple products and gear. Non-winning caps offer 101 silly suggestions for things to do with them, such as stringing together caps for a '60s style "fringe" door or using a cap as a stopper for the bathtub.

No longer the star of Snapple ads, pitchwoman Wendy Kaufman will travel to 33 markets with the "Twisted Cap Trick" tour beginning in May for lunchtime events in city centers. Snapple also will put comic sayings on ATMs located in convenience stores, gas stations, delis and pharmacies in six markets, including Baltimore; Harrisburg and Hartford, Pa.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Chicago; and Indianapolis. A revamped Web site is planned with a custom multilevel speedway videogame and other features to entertain visitors.

Also gearing up for summer is Snapple's herb-spiked Elements fruit-drink line, which will see a budget of about $6 million, double that of 1999. The increase accommodate an uptick of markets to the current 33. Elements, launched with a guerrilla marketing campaign last year from Deutsch, was the single-most-successful new launch in the company's history, Mr. Jarmon said.

PLOY OF COLA

Coca-Cola Co., meanwhile, will focus its big summer promotion on Coke Classic, while Pepsi-Cola Co. and Dr Pepper/Seven Up are each running a single promotion to support most of their corporate brands. The combined brands of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and No. 3 Dr Pepper/Seven Up accounted for 90% of total soft-drink market share volume in 1999.

Of the trio, Pepsi wins bragging rights for the most complex summer promo as it joins forces with Time Warner's Warner Music Group for a rewards-based promotion. Dubbed "Choose Your Music," consumers collect points from an array of Pepsi brands to earn free custom compact discs. Some artists from Warner and other studios have already signed on for an anticipated 200 songs across a variety of musical genres, from hip-hop to classical. Songs were pre-screened by Pepsi to avoid offensive lyrics.

"This was a huge deal to orchestrate," said Frances Britchford, VP-marketing, Pepsi-Cola North America, who added that each artist and each track was individually negotiated over the past year.

The CDs will be created by Musicmaker.com. Production and licensing costs from Warner are said to have cost Pepsi between $15 million and $25 million. In addition to being paid for burning the CDs, Musicmaker will have the right to promote to the people who respond to the offer.

"The custom CD is a new product, and I need to introduce it just like any other product," said Larry Lieberman, president, global marketing, Musicmaker.com, who added that the promotion will help Musicmaker.

com develop a customer list that would normally take years to build. "I'll have a list of millions. I'll know what kind of music they pick."

Points vary by package and a total of 1.5 billion packages of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One, Mountain Dew, Wild Cherry Pepsi and Storm will carry points. Although the CD is free, consumers pay $2 for shipping and handling. For 50 points, consumers earn a 5-song CD; 100 points earns an 11-song disc. Supporting the Pepsi promotion is its estimated $15 million TV campaign featuring video clips of artists such as the ubiquitous Faith Hill, Kid Rock, Sugar Ray, Missy Elliott and Jewel. Pitchkid Hallie Eisenberg will be on summer vacation from the spots. BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles. Other campaign components include a sweepstakes to win music video appearances and concert tickets.

INSTANT-WIN GAME

Coca-Cola Co. also is flipping its promotional top. Beginning May 15 through July 31, random cans of regular and caffeine-free Coke Classic will feature false tops that reveal instant-win prizes. Besides free Coke Classic, top prizes include five $1 million cash awards and walk-on roles in Universal Studio movies and music videos.

The promotion will be supported by an estimated $15 million ad campaign using national and local TV, print, radio and Internet ads featuring the tagline "It could be your next Coke." B Com3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, handles.

In a precursor to Summer Olympic promotions, Coke's sports drink Powerade will get its own instant-win promotion, with the grand prize winner going to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. The contest, handled in-house, runs through Aug. 31 and is linked with a relaunched Web site for the brand at www.powerade.com. The site will list Olympic activities and live chat sessions with U.S. athletes. Coca-Cola also is giving away Olympic trips in summer radio promotions.

DR PEPPER/SEVEN UP

Not to be left out is Dr Pepper/Seven Up, since summer sales make up nearly 40% of the Cadbury Schweppes unit's volume, according to a spokeswoman. Dr Pepper/Seven Up consumers will get a chance to win a dance party CD by buying specially marked 20-ounce bottles of the flavor brands. The under-the-cap promotion runs from early May through August for brands including A&W root beer, Canada Dry ginger ale, Country Time lemonade, Hawaiian Punch, Orange Crush, Schweppes Ginger Ale, Ruby Red Squirt, Sundrop, Sunkist, Squirt, Vernors, Welch's Grape and Welch's Strawberry. The promotion is aimed at teens and pre-teens, who favor 20-ounce bottles.

"Immediate consumption products have great appeal for the on-the-go consumer and, because people are willing to pay more for convenience, the [single-serve products] provide better margins for retailers," said Gary Hemphill, VP, Beverage Marketing Corp. Mr. Hemphill added that sales of immediate-consumption products are growing at a faster rate than are take-home packages.

Although no advertising backs the promotion, Dr Pepper/Seven Up is running a separate ad effort for Sunkist carrying on its "One nation under the sun" theme. In it, ducks trick two teen-age boys out of their Sunkist by creating beautiful babe "decoys" in a new TV spot from FCB Worldwide, Chicago.

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