A burping Cruz sees Coke turn to celebrity advertising

NEW YORK - In a break with its traditional advertising, Coca-Cola is to follow its blue rival Pepsi down the celebrity advertising road and has signed stars including Tom Cruise's girlfriend Penelope Cruz who will be seen burping for its latest campaign.

The soft-drink giant is to unveil a new marketing push for its flagship brand that will feature a new tagline: "Coca-Cola Real". The campaign has been created for Coca-Cola by the WPP Group agency Berlin Cameron/Red Cell.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, in one spot Cruz, the Spanish actress who is most famous in the US for being Tom Cruise's girlfriend, will be shown drinking Coke and then burping. 'Friends' star Courteney Cox will pour a glass of Coke for her actor husband David Arquette. In a third spot, R'n'B singer Mya sings a hip-hop version of an old song called 'Compared to What'.

Print ads will feature Muhammad Ali shadowboxing with inner-city children and others will feature Nascar motor racing.

Rival cola Pepsi has long based its marketing strategy around celebrities. Recent campaigns have featured Britney Spears, Shakira and most recently Destiny's Child frontwoman Beyonce Knowles, who is to appear in an ad directed by Spike Lee. Knowles has replaced Spears, who has been dumped by Pepsi.

Coca-Cola is looking to turn around sales of its Classic drink, which have been falling since 2001 as it faced increased competition from the health and fruit drink market. The company has been criticised for losing its way with previous marketing campaigns, including "life tastes better", which was canned in September 2001. It hopes this new campaign will appeal to young consumers.

Officially, the brand retains McCann-Erickson WorldGroup as its advertising agency. However, according to reports, Coca-Cola has not been happy with the agency's work. Berlin Cameron/Red Cell has worked on some of Coke's other brands including Mello Yello and Dasani, the bottled water brand.

Coke will unveil its new advertising campaign today.

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