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(June 6, 2001) VIENNA -- German soft drinks group Mineralbrunnen Uberkingen-Teinach has managed to lure acclaimed international filmmaker Wim Wenders to direct the first commercial for its cult cola brand, Afri Cola, since the 1960s.

Mr. Wenders, the director of quirky movies such as Buena Vista Social Club and Wings of Desire, has just wrapped up the work for the estimated $420,000 60-second spot, which features a mysterious veiled girl floating under water. The spot breaks this week in cinemas in German-speaking countries and hits TV screens in July.

It is the first new spot for the drink since Charles Wilp created his classic 1968 advertising campaign featuring sexy nuns, hippies and flower power. Handling the new campaign is Die Brut, Frankfurt.

The German soft drinks company owns the international rights to the cola with the palm logo. It carved out an image for Afri Cola as the hip, underground alternative to Pepsi and Coca-Cola when it relaunched the product in the '90s.

"It is the insider brand for individuals," said Mineralbrunnen Uberkingen-Teinach Marketing Director Peter Verhoff. "We wanted to stand out from the super brands Coke and Pepsi."

Commenting on the commercial, Mr. Wenders said, "I have the greatest respect for Mr. Wilp's work and remember it well. In reality his things had cult status even though the concept didn't even exist back then. But I didn't view the remarkable ad history as a difficult inheritance rather as a motivation."

The original bottle with the retro palm logo and the slogan "Everything is in Afri Cola" has been maintained in the ad.

Mr. Verhoff said the brand's retro status may have helped secure Mr. Wenders for the project. "Fortunately it was not difficult to bring him on board," he said. Mr. Wenders said he was a fan of the cola as a boy. -- Mike Leidig

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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