Diet duet for Elements

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Thanks to the miracle of marketing, now even ice and air come in diet versions.

Snapple Beverage Group this week begins shipping diet extensions of its 20-month-old Elements `nutraceutical' beverage line, Diet Ice and Diet Air, as it gears up national advertising for the full line. National distribution of the diet extension is expected by February, according to executives from the Cadbury Schweppes unit.

Diet Ice and Diet Air are expected to appeal to 18- to 24-year-old women, according to Maura Mottolese, VP-marketing, while the base brand targets men of the same age.

"People who are diet-conscious don't have the variety available to them that non-dieting counterparts do," she said.

Diet beverages represent about 25% of carbonated soft drinks; for non-carbonated beverages, the share likely is less, said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. But diet's share of the total beverage market has decreased steadily since 1990.

All 300-plus Snapple wholesalers will carry Diet Elements. The beverage comes in a clear light-blue, 20-ounce bottle, similar to the base brand's clear bottle.

A national ad campaign will break this spring for the entire Elements line, a Snapple spokesman said. Elements was introduced nationally in April 1999, but the ads have been regional with a focus on outdoor and alternative media. The spokesman said the company, bought last year by Cadbury, will heavily support Elements this year. "We look to become a national player in terms of message," he said. Cadbury wouldn't discuss specific spending levels on the brand.

The company spent $8.7 million on measured media for the Snapple brand in the first nine months of 2000, more than in all of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. CMR had no figures for Elements.

Deutsch, New York, has been Snapple's agency since 1997, helping turn around the brand after it spiraled out of control under former owner Quaker Oats Co. Although Interpublic Group of Cos. has been tapped as global marketing strategist for Coca-Cola Co., the Snapple spokesman said the company sees no conflict with Deutsch, now owned by Interpublic. In fact, Deutsch's D-Rush, New York, has been tapped to produce commercials for the flagship Coke brand.

"We've been assured our businesses are being kept completely confidential. [Deutsch] has done project work before," he said. Coca-Cola did not return calls for comment.

Contributing: Wendy Davis

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