NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest beverage maker, launched a new global marketing campaign on Wednesday to try to draw consumers back to soft drinks.
The campaign raises the stakes in Coke's competition with rival PepsiCo Inc. Both have increased marketing efforts — changing logos and running more ads — to shift their messages back to soda. They had put greater focus on pricier bottled water, energy drinks and sparkling juice drinks but amid the economic downturn both companies are returning to their roots.
Soda sales fell about 4.8 percent in the U.S. during the first nine months of last year, notes Beverage Digest Editor John Sicher. Coca-Cola's U.S. soft drink sales fell 4.4 percent in the same period, Sicher said, but the company did gain 0.1 percentage points of market share. Coca-Cola Chief Executive Muhtar Kent has asserted that soft drinks are key to the company's success, and both Kent and PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi have unveiled rebranding campaigns that, in part, are designed to slow the decline.
"The cola wars are back in high gear," says Sicher.
Coke's new "Open Happiness" ad campaign, tied to its "Coke Side of Life" ad slogan, is scheduled to launch on "American Idol." Ads will continue to show up on TV spots, billboards and in stores over the next few weeks. Part of the campaign includes three ads to run during the SuperBowl on Feb. 1.
"A lot of people have left the category," Sicher says. "Also a lot of young people have not entered the category, so these ads may help Coke both recruit new, young consumers and rerecruit some lapsed consumers."
As part of its marketing campaign, Coke said it will sell 16-ounce (473 ml.) plastic bottles of Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta for just 99 cents. The lower price appeals to recession-weary consumers.
The Atlanta-based company plans to have TV commercials, outdoor ads and a song that is a collaboration of Gnarls Barkley's Cee-Lo, Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy, Brendon Urie from Panic at the Disco and others.
The Wieden + Kennedy ad agency developed the campaign.
Shares of Coca-Cola rose 11 cents to $42.99 in afternoon trading, while shares of PepsiCo fell 59 cents to $49.84.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.