Staying on top of the world’s beverage industry means two things to
Coca-Cola - strengthening its core Coke and Sprite brands and going
head-to-head with competitors’ products that dominate niches in the soft
The success of this strategy, masterminded by the chief marketing
officer, Sergio Zyman, is mixed at best. Coke is the world’s most
popular soft drink and, by refreshing the growing pool of agencies
handling the account, Zyman is helping Coke outperform the market by a
But he would wish for more from the other element of this strategy,
which has a poor record. It is about to be put to the test again with
the announcement of the second new product from Coca-Cola within months.
Citra is aimed squarely at Cadbury Schweppes’s grapefruit-based drink,
Squirt. The San Francisco-based agency, Goldberg Moser O’Neill, has
landed the dollars 40 million launch. The size of the budget has raised
eyebrows, given that Squirt occupies only 0.6 per cent of the market.
About the same amount is being spent on the launch, at the end of
January, of Surge, a lemon-lime drink aimed at Pepsi-Cola’s Mountain Dew
which dominates the heavy-citrus market with a 6 per cent share.
Observers are watching these launches for signs that Coca-Cola’s attacks
on competitors have started to pay off. Having been burned by the
disastrous launch of New Coke in 1985, one of the great marketing
fiascos of all time and which Zyman personally masterminded, Coca-Cola
has eschewed innovation, preferring to make life difficult for
Mello-Yello was its first attempt to chip away at Mountain Dew and it
managed, at most, to take 10 per cent of market share. Mr Pibb was a
weak assault on Cadbury Schweppes’s Dr Pepper. Coca-Cola’s Fruitopia was
beaten by Oasis in its sector and was withdrawn from sale in the UK in
The last time Coca-Cola had a successful new product launch was in 1983
with Diet Coke, a clone of its own top product. Zyman must be hoping he
will not be the one with the headache once the products hit the market.