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Gleeful pepsico representatives put a giant inflatable chimp in front of Coca-Cola Co.'s Rio de Janeiro headquarters last month after defeating a Coke effort to ban a Pepsi comparative spot with cola-drinking chimps.

Soft drink marketers take a tongue-in-cheek approach to the Latin America cola wars, but they're playing for a $26.3 billion market, according to Euromonitor. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola will invest about $2 billion each by 2000 in new products, bottling plants and packaging.

"Mexico and Brazil are going to head Pepsi's growth in 1996," said Gianni Pieraccione, Pepsi's president for Brazil.

Pepsi will extend its Kas guarana (a popular Amazon fruit flavor) this year. Dan Sayre, marketing director of Coca-Cola de Argentina, said, "People here are more demanding of what they want in a soft drink-less sugar and more juice."

Coca-Cola's Quatro has become a $200 million brand, capturing 5% of Argentina's market.

In Peru, Inca Kola is adding products and eyeing overseas markets, particularly in Asia, for the chamomile-based greenish yellow soft drink that outsells Coke locally. "The taste combines well with sweet-sour foods," said Manuel Salazar, director of operations at Sabores Peru, handling Inca Kola's marketing and franchising.

In Brazil, where Coke's market share is plummeting, Pepsi's Kas is taking on local Brahma and Antarctica brands and Coca-Cola's Ta¡.

"Guarana represents 24% of [Brazil's] soft drink market," said Flavio Maria, Rio de Janeiro-based marketing director at Pepsi Brazil. In 1991, guarana took just 16% of soft drink sales.

And while Coca-Cola unsuccessfully challenged the Pepsi chimps spot, Guarana Antarctica broke a spot by W/Brasil, SÌo Paulo, with a chimp ordering a guarana.

Contributing to this story:

Michael J. Galetto, Buenos Aires; Douglass Stinson, Lima; Jeffrey D. Zbar, Hollywood, Fla.

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