Coke goes native with new soft drink

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[Buenos Aires, Argentina] Coca-Cola Co. is launching Nativa, a soft drink in Argentina flavored with the country's traditional yerba mate herbal tea, as part of a strategy to broaden its portfolio with products made of indigenous ingredients.

In many countries, tea, coffee, fruit and energy drinks offer greater growth opportunities than colas. Coke reported that third-quarter 2003 sales in Europe, for example, increased by 9% but sales of Coke's non-carbonated beverages rose 45%. Around the world, Coke has been experimenting with drinks from Qoo fruit juice in Asia to an energy drink called Burn in the U.K. In Japan, Coke's best-selling beverage is Georgia coffee.

Argentines typically drink mate hot through a metal straw from a gourd-like bombilla they keep refilling with hot water. Nativa is a pale-green, lightly carbonated sugary soft drink.

earthy qualities

The Nativa campaign, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Argentina, includes outdoor, print, radio and a 60-second TV commercial, accompanied by point-of-purchase material handed out during a sampling aimed at reaching 2 million consumers. The message plays on the earthy qualities of the drink and the tea's status as a national icon.

The spot, filmed from the semi-tropical north where yerba mate is grown to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, displays the extreme conditions of nature in Argentina. Winds topple trees and clouds race over snow-capped mountains. A raindrop falls in a slow-moving creek and a shirtless boy basks in falling rain as the sun shines. At the end, a young man takes a drink of Nativa in a field with his girlfriend as dusk arrives, and the tagline appears: "Refresh your day with a flavor that is very much ours."

To add distinction, the smallest version of the drink was designed with yerba mate leaves wrapping around the glass bottle. Interbrand, a strategy and design consulting firm owned by Omnicom Group, developed the artwork, branding and packaging for Nativa, which also is sold in 550 milliliter and 1.5 liter plastic bottles.

Coca-Cola is targeting adults and aims to capture 1% of the soft-drink market over the next year, said Cecilia Flores Paez, innovation and new-products manager for the company in South America. According to company research, 87% of Argentines polled said they would be willing to buy Nativa. In Argentina, Coca-Cola products have a 55% share of the market, led by the Coke brand with 32%.

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