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Call it the dawning of the age of Fruitopia.

Named one of Time's 10 best products of 1994, Coca-Cola's cool New Age beverage is hot, helped by a memorable kaleidoscope-effect ad campaign and flavor names Ben & Jerry wish they had come up with.

The secret to the success of Fruitopia, now a $20.4 million brand, according to Information Resources Inc., is its connection with consumers, says Mary Minnick, 35, assistant VP-director of noncarbonated beverages.

"We spent a lot of time talking to the consumer and getting a feel for what they want," she says.

What they wanted was unusual flavors and a sense of fun. Ms. Minnick, along with Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., came up with the playful positioning of the brand with a '60s style image reinforced by clever names such as the reduced-calorie version called "Inner Lights."

But what undoubtedly also pumped sales was the brand's $30 million marketing budget overseen by Ms. Minnick.

Already sold in seven countries, Fruitopia is talking expansion into Latin America, and a new line extension will be test marketed this fall.

To match the breakthrough advertising, the Fruitopia team devised a promotional sampling tour with psychedelic-colored buses tripping around the country. They will make a return trip this year, invoking Fruitopia's message of feelin' groovy.

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