Diet V8 Splash carves niche in juice category for adults

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Campbell Soup Co. plans to bulk up sales of its V8 Splash juice line with a new product aimed at women who want to slim down.

The Diet V8 Splash line, with 10 calories per 8-ounce serving, will target adult women, a departure from the all-family push used with existing V8 Splash products.

The few juice competitors that have entered the diet arena, including PepsiCo's Tropicana Twister Light line, still have 40 or 50 calories per serving, not few enough to allow them to be truly considered diet drinks, said Eric Leventhal, category director for beverages at Campbell.

"We're doing really well from an all-family angle and talking to moms in our advertising, but Diet [V8 Splash] is a great development for adults who drink V8 Splash," Mr. Leventhal said.

The carrot-based line, which will include Tropical Blend, Strawberry Kiwi and Berry Blend varieties in 16- and 32-ounce sizes, will be supported with an integrated campaign this fall from Y&R Advertising, New York. The ads will play up the great taste of the products, made with Johnson & Johnson's new sucralose sweetener.


"Sucralose is the next generation of sweeteners because it is derived from natural sugar products, unlike aspartame or saccharin, and actually tastes like sugar," Mr. Leventhal said.

The media buy will reflect Campbell's increased focus on targeted vehicles, including a new emphasis on print.

Ads for the new calcium-fortified V8 Splash drink boxes (AA, Nov. 15), for example, will run in April and May magazines targeted to parents. The ads feature a drawing of the new packaging with the headline, "Look ma, no glass."

Advertising for the base V8 vegetable juice line, exclusively print this year, uses copy tailored to magazines' specific readerships. For Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan, the tagline reads, "Want to look slimmer? Wear black, drink red." Health-focused magazines feature V8 bottles lined up like barbells and the line, "Health experts recommend starting your regimen with light weights. We recommend 10 ounces." Y&R handles.

For V8 Splash, Campbell spent $24 million in media for the first 11 months of 1999; V8 vegetable juice got $9 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

To drive trial of regular V8 Splash among families, Campbell in August will expand its 32-ounce size with four new flavors, priced lower than other similar-size juice drinks.

To stay competitive in convenience stores, Campbell will bump V8 up from a 10- to a 12-ounce serving, with a comparable price hike for the larger size.


Sales for Campbell's beverage division total $600 million, split evenly between the V8 and V8 Splash business, a company spokesman said. While the juice division accounts for less than 10% of Campbell's overall sales, "Beverages is one the few pockets of strength in a company that's had a lot of disappointments, particularly in their core condensed soup business," said Bill Leach, analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

For the four-week period ended Feb. 27, Campbell's soup volume fell 5.6% vs. a decline of 4.2% for the soup category overall, according to Information Resources Inc.

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