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Lucky Vanous might be Coca-Cola Co.'s best advertising investment of 1994.

The marketer has reaped invaluable free media exposure for its Diet Coke campaign as national outlets from "Hard Copy" to Newsweek focused on the aptly named star of the TV spot titled "Diet Coke Break."

Mr. Vanous, a married Fordham University student and veteran model, plays a construction worker a group of female office workers ogle every day at 11:30 a.m. from their office window.

The commercial, set to the steamy strains of Etta James singing "I Just Wanna Make Love to You," broke Jan. 22 as part of Diet Coke's startlingly sexy, $70 million "This is refreshment" TV campaign and got heavy play during the Winter Olympics.

Coca-Cola insisted it has done nothing special to promote the spot or Mr. Vanous. But there's no doubt he has captured the attention of American women.

"People see it for what it is-a lighthearted, fun look at relationships," said a spokesman.

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