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(July 3, 2001) MOSCOW -- Coca-Cola Co. has appointed Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles to support the return ofthe Dr Pepper brand to Russia following an almost three-year absence. No budget was disclosed.

Introduced in Russia in 1996 by Cadbury-Schweppes, Dr Pepper was, like many multinational brands, unable to survive in the face of the country's economic crisis in August 1998. Following Coke's acquisition of the bottling and distribution rights of the soft drink, Dr Pepper is scheduled to hit Russian shelves this month.

The fizzy drink will be packed in half-liter bottles and priced at 35 cents. D'Arcy will create a sales promotion and direct marketing campaign.

The multinational soft drinks giant is hoping to surpass the 20% market share of the country's carbonated sector that Dr Pepper managed to achieve in the first half of 1998.

In spite of its three-year absence, the Dr Pepper brand is still recognized by almost a third of respondents in Moscow, a key market, according to a recent Gallup Media poll.

Meanwhile Coke rival PepsiCo. has bolstered its marketing budget for its Mountain Dew non-cola brand. -- Sergey Rybak

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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