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Coca-Cola Co. is preparing to launch its second new citrus soft drink of 1997, this time taking a competitive jab at Cadbury Schweppes' Squirt.

The marketer has awarded creative for the $30 million to $40 million introduction of Citra to Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, adding yet another agency to its ever-expanding roster (see related story on Page 38).

Citra will begin distribution in about a dozen significant markets in four regions by the end of the first quarter, said executives familiar with the plans.


Coca-Cola and Goldberg declined comment on the new brand. The marketer recently began informing bottlers in the test markets about the new product code-named "Kingfisher."

In choosing to mimic an existing brand, Coca-Cola has once again taken square aim at a rival's niche monopoly. Late last year, the company announced it would begin this month a national rollout of Surge, a lemon-lime soda targeted at Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Mountain Dew.

Other recent clones include PowerAde and Fruitopia, aimed at Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade and Snapple, respectively.

Citra's launch is expected to get advertising, promotions, couponing and sampling. The brand will likely go national by yearend.


The size of the budget is surprising in that it would match the expected support for Surge, which is taking on a much bigger rival. Squirt is one-10th the size of Mountain Dew; in 1995, its share grew 7.4% to 0.6%, according to Beverage World.

Cadbury has talked of high hopes for Squirt, a grapefruit-based, non-caffeinated soft drink distributed nationally but with geographic skews. Top managers think it has the potential to someday approach Dr Pepper in sales.

Dr Pepper is currently Cadbury's leading soft drink, with a 6.1% share of the $52 billion soft-drink industry. Dr Pepper outspent Squirt $50 million to $5 million on advertising through the first 10 months of '96.

Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, handles Squirt advertising.

Coca-Cola's new-product rec-ord has been spotty. Its last big success was the 1983 introduction of Diet Coke. In recent years, its strong profit growth has been fueled by rejuvenation and global expansion of core brands like Coca-Cola Classic and Sprite.


Coca-Cola's first priority for Citra isn't necessarily big sales. Observers say Citra and other strategic launches in development are designed to cause problems for rivals in key segments. In that sense, Citra is designed to give Cadbury another headache as it wrestles with its 7UP.

With the exception of colas, the non-alcoholic beverage business has proved unkind for me-too brands. Beverages like Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew and Gatorade have long resisted encroachment.

Citra will be either yellow in color or clear. A unique form of packaging, probably a proprietary bottle, is part of Citra's launch plan. Cadbury recently unveiled plans for new contour bottles on a number of its brands, including Squirt.

Goldberg Moser O'Neill's introduction to Coca-Cola Chief Marketing Officer Sergio Zyman probably came through Lowe Group, which acquired a minority stake in the San Francisco agency last year. Lowe handles two of Coca-Cola's biggest brands in the U.S.-Sprite and Diet Coke.

In the past two years, Mr. Zyman has added dozens of agencies to his roster, seeking both to add to his available creative resources and to limit the resources available to his rivals. Coca-Cola has recently been in discussions with a former Pepsi-Cola agency, J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, about an undisclosed assignment.

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