VIRGIN SODA ADS MOCK COLA GIANTS

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LONDON-A new tongue-in-cheek campaign for Richard Branson's Virgin cola, the upstart private label challenging Coca-Cola Co.'s and Pepsi-Cola Co.'s dominance of the U.K. soft-drink market, may be coming to the U.S. before the end of the year.

Kicking off May 2 in the U.K., the humorous ads represent the first major TV campaign for the brand, with spending of $6.4 million. The new soft drink, has already gained a 10% volume share of the U.K.'s take-home cola market.

The "Unreal" campaign consists of nine spots satirizing Coca-Cola's "It's the real thing" slogan and mocking the excess associated with the cola giants' ads.

The "alternative" cola spots avoid the use of glamorous and expensive productions, instead featuring unknown but attractive actors who make unreal claims such as Virgin cola has aphrodisiac qualities.

"It takes all the sacred cows of soft-drink marketing and makes fun of them and the cola wars," said M.T. Rainey, partner at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, which handled creative. Manning Gottlieb Media has media duties.

Virgin cola is manufactured in a joint venture between Mr. Branson's Virgin Group and Canada's Cott Corp.

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