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Whipper Snapple, a juice drink that captures the smoothie bar craze inside a swirl-shaped bottle, has helped Triarc Beverage Group add sales to its entire Snapple franchise.

"New products are vital to the premium category," says Ken Gilbert, 48, senior VP-marketing. "Whipper didn't just mean additional volume, but more attention to our base brands. It turned out to be a nice new solid piece of business for us."

The beverage now represents 7% of Snapple's total business and hasn't cut into sales of its tea and juice lines.

Triarc's premium beverage sales, 80% of which are accounted for by Snapple, were up 50% in 1998 to $611.6 milllion, from $408.9 million.

"There's a lot of growth left [for Whipper Snapple]," Mr. Gilbert says. "Retailers are interested in something new and different that is going to bring customers back."

The line caught on so fast when it was introduced last summer that Triarc had the enviable problem of falling short of demand.

"It was amazing. We could not make it fast enough," Mr. Gilbert recounts.

Playing a key role for Mr. Gilbert was packaging, a critical element for trendy teas and juices. The eight-item line-two new flavors were added this year-is shrink-wrapped with bright colors on tall, curvy 10-oz. bottles that stand out on grocery shelves. Inside is a whipped fruit drink created with help from a supplier who figured out how to make a shelf-stable dairy base that can be blended with fruit.

"As soon as we tasted it, we knew we were onto something," says Mr. Gilbert, citing his team of Michael Sands, VP-marketing; Maryellen Reis, VP-packaging; and Smita Patel, VP-research and development.

The launch included sampling, radio and a humorous 30-second TV spot from Deutsch, New York, that showed people, including a new bride, exchanging her blender for a free Whipper Snapple.

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