Pepsi and Coke square up for musical battle

LONDON - Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the world's biggest soft drink brands, are preparing for one of their most fierce battles yet as their global marketers attempt to win the hearts and minds of youth.

On Tuesday, Pepsi and Sony Music Entertainment announced a major partnership that will see Sony artists -- such as Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Shakira -- appear exclusively in Pepsi ads and promotions.

The global marketing campaign, beginning next summer in the US, will span TV, radio and retail. It includes a series of Pepsi-sponsored TV specials showcasing Sony artists and 'sneak previews' of songs on the radio.

There will also be co-branded sales efforts at non-music retail outlets and cross-merchandising programmes.

Pepsi is understood to be putting £100m behind next year's global activity, which it refers to internally as its "Drink Pepsi, taste stardom" concept.

Pepsi, the challenger brand in the cola market, has made great efforts to "own" music. Rival Coke has tended to reach youth through sport, having dominated access to sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup.

Coke is aiming to define its position as market leader and the "original" cola drink.

A massive 2003 ad campaign, created by New York agency Berlin Cameron/Red Cell in conjunction with McCann-Erickson, is to focus on the message "Real". The campaign will feature young people interacting with friends enjoying "real moments".

Coke has previously used taglines such as "The Real Thing", but has failed to achieve the breakthrough of its 1979 "I want to buy the world a Coke" ad. Its 2001 attempt "Life Tastes Good" was seen as inappropriate after September 11 and was pulled months after its debut.

In the US, Coke has a 44% share of the cola market compared with Pepsi's 32%. In the UK Coke's share is closer to 54%, Pepsi's 23%.

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