Soft-Drink Maker Bolsters Urban Push, Hints at More Line Extensions

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper/Seven Up today outlined advertising plans to bottlers at Dr Pepper's annual convention, highlighting a strong play for minority consumers and hinting also at more line extensions.

Banking on the success of this summer's launch of Red Fusion, Dr Pepper's first line extension in its 117-year history that executives said could become 9% of Dr Pepper volume, the company is preparing to roll out Diet Red Fusion in spring of 2003.

Growing urban market
Red Fusion was designed to appeal to Hispanic and black urban audiences, particularly consumers aged 12 to 24, similar to PepsiCo's Mountain Dew spin-off, Code Red. The urban market is growing more quickly than the general market and consumes more soft drinks. The company has special efforts targeting that audience in Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, Tenn., Southern California and south Texas. The "Who's Your Soda" tagline will remain.

Executives said they

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are evaluating further line extensions as they fight for shelf space with Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola North America. (Last month, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, which is based in the Plano, Texas, unveiled the green-colored, fruit-flavored dnL, the "upside-down" 7 Up, that will be available Nov. 4.) In addition to the carbonated competition, there is poaching of market share from waters, fruit drinks, teas, sports drinks and other so-called new age, or alternative, beverages.

Dr Pepper's 2003 ad lineup, including Red Fusion, will deliver seven spots. WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York, is agency of record.

In the bid for ethnic consumers, the company will continue Dr Pepper's musical push and the "Be You" ad campaign but with a more ethnic flavor. Country music star Garth Brooks, for example, is being replaced by performers who sing about -- and with -- their musical inspirations (and beverage inspiration): hip-hop star LL Cool J with Run DMC; pop singer Anastacia with Cindi Lauper; and Paulina Rubio with Cuban salsa sensation Celia Cruz.

Spoof ads
Diet Dr Pepper's spoof ads will continue, to the delight of bottlers who roared when three spots were shown. One spot parodies Bo Derrick's beach run from the movie 10 using two rather unattractive people who flee when they see each other -- rather than flinging themselves into each others arms. Another features the "Retirement Village People" -- and not the '70s-era disco and -- complete with shriveled singers and senior groupies but no one else.

The target is 18- to 49-year-olds, and ads will run on prime-time network TV, and on cable and syndicated TV.

Dr Pepper received $64 million in measured media last year and $38.9 in the first half of this year; Diet Dr Pepper received $28.5 million and $18.7 million, respectively, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Dr Pepper/Seven Up also unveiled a new soft-drink machine that accepts credit cards and plans to step up couponing and other promotions. In the spring, it will tie into the movie The X-Men II from 20th Century Fox.

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