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When pepsi-cola co. hatched a promotion strategy to counter Coca-Cola Co.'s huge 1996 Summer Olympics sponsorship, it ended up being so successful it put Coke on the run.

The "Pepsi Stuff" promo began in April just as Coke's Olympics promotions were beginning; Pepsi's goal was to give away 4.5 million items.

Heavily promoted via network TV, radio, outdoor, print and point-of-sale, the promotion was an immediate hit with consumers who began racking up points to win merchandise including jackets, duffel bags and mountain bikes modeled by Cindy Crawford, Andre Agassi and Deion Sanders.

When the effort ended Oct. 31, Pepsi had blasted past its projections and ended '96 neck-and-neck with Coca-Cola in total supermarket share, according to Information Resources Inc.

Altogether, Pepsi gave away more than 12 million items worth more than $200 million to more than 30 million consumers; 20,000 mountain bikes (worth 2,750 points each) were distributed.

" Pepsi Stuff' reached out to consumers and touched them through their lifestyles . . . it really created something different in the marketplace," says Brian Swette, Pepsi's exec VP-chief marketing officer.

TLP, Dallas, handled promotions; BBDO Worldwide, New York, handled advertising.

Bottlers raved so much that Pepsi decided to do it again this year. Now Coke is on the defensive, trying to keep up with the new promotional pace Pepsi learned

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