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That Sinking Feeling: Coca-Cola Aims to Get More Entrepreneurial to Spark Sales

Posted by Dale Buss on October 21, 2014 04:59 PM

If only Coca-Cola could find a way to extend its "Share a Coke" program for a long time to come. Besides that short-term spark to soda sales, the company didn't have much good news to share—or optimism for the future—along with its quarterly earnings report today.

The beverage giant's revenue actually declined during the third quarter, to less than $12 billion. Its profit fell 14 percent as global soda volume remained flat, reflecting the long-term struggle faced by Coca-Cola and its soft-drink rivals in a pronounced lack of interest in their primary products by more and more health-conscious consumers.

CEO Muhtar Kent also noted that the company is struggling, along with other beverage and consumer packaged goods companies, with currency headwinds and deterioriating economic conditions not only in emerging markets but also in Europe. "This is placing strong pressure on the short-term performance of our business," he said on the company's earnings conference call. He also lowered short- and long-term financial expectations.

But Coca-Cola must keep paddling, so Kent announced a series of initiatives both of the belt-tightening and innovation variety designed to spur growth—somehow. Continue reading...

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POM Wonderful Returns to TV with Free Radical Fighting Characters

Posted by Dale Buss on October 14, 2014 01:01 PM

This time around POM Wonderful isn't likely to provoke the US Federal Trade Commission with its new advertising. The beverage brand's new "Crazy Healthy" campaign marks its first time in three years to run TV spots, and they won't be seen as controversial.

Just about two years ago, an agency judge ruled that the brand had gone too far in claims in its advertising that the fruit juice helps cure or mitigate specific diseases such as cancer. POM Wonderful objected by poking a thumb in the eye of the FTC with a provocative campaign, "FTC v. POM. You be the judge."

But now, in its return to national US TV advertising starting this month, POM Wonderful has taken a much more oblique—and non-confrontational—approach with its messaging for 100% pomegranate juice. No images this time, as before the FTC action, of a POM Wonderful bottle with a noose around its neck and the tagline, "Cheat death."Continue reading...

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Soup's On: Plum Organics Developing Soup Line with Campbell's Help

Posted by Dale Buss on October 10, 2014 03:48 PM

Plum Organics had been developing a line of fruit and vegetable pouches for adults long before the startup was acquired by Campbell Soup a year ago. Now Emeryville, Calif.-based Plum has introduced Plum Vida, which is being exclusively sold as part of the Made to Matter collection at Target stores.

Co-founder Neil Grimmer has something else in the new product pipeline, slated for next year, that will be a direct result of the relationship between Plum and its parent company, Campbell Soup. Yes, a Plum soup line is in the works.

"It will bring what Plum does best to the soup aisle," Grimmer exclusively told brandchannel. "And it will be clearly leveraging some of [Campbell Soup's] capabilities to do that as well."Continue reading...

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From True to Life, the Cola Wars Continue

Posted by Dale Buss on October 3, 2014 10:37 AM

In the latest stage of the ongoing cola wars, the kings of carbonated beverages are going green—on the outside—and lean, on the inside. PepsiCo just introduced a new mid-calorie variety called Pepsi True that uses a combination of stevia and sugar to provide a reduced calorie count, just like Coca-Cola Life. It comes in a green can, just like Coca-Cola Life.

And just like Coca-Cola Life that initially was only offered in Argentina, PepsiCo has put a twist on how it will first make Pepsi True available: exclusively on Amazon (where Coca-Cola is also exclusively reviving its Surge brand) before it hits US stores. Of course, the two brands also could end up sharing the same basic plight: mid-cal soft drinks haven't attained much of a following anywhere yet.

For PepsiCo, the big bet is that Pepsi True will do a better job in the so-called mid-calorie space—not "low calorie" like diet sodas, but not full-calorie either, like the traditional flagships Pepsi and Coke—than the company's previous offering, Pepsi Next.Continue reading...

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Starbucks Launches Global Brand Campaign Filmed in 28 Countries

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 29, 2014 10:23 AM

Today is National Coffee Day in the US, an almost redundant moniker in a country that runs on java—and the perfect timing for Starbucks to launch its first global brand campaign, “Meet me at Starbucks.”

Centered around an interactive short documentary on its YouTube channel, the branding campaign shows what happens when coffee lovers turn off their phones and tablets and connect in real-time, offline and in-store.Continue reading...

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Pabst Looks to Reassure Hipsters With Indie Music Festival

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 25, 2014 06:31 PM

Pabst Blue Ribbon, the unofficial beer of hipsters across America, is throwing a party in hipster heaven: Portland, Oregon. As in the Portland that begat the hipsterrific TV show, Portlandia.

This weekend, PBR's marketing team is throwing its first-ever music festival, joining the parade of brands that have also fallen in love with the music festival circuit.

Project Pabst, as the three-day festival is called, couldn't be more ironic. It feature such acts as the British duo behind 80's phenom Tears for Fears, the reunited Constantines, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and other acts that will cost a mere $35 for a one-day pass and $60 for two.

The whole event is a thank you to the Milwaukee-based brand’s top market. "We were trying to think of something we could do for Portland," Matt Slessler, Pabst's Pacific field marketing manager, told the Oregonian. "We refer to it as our love letter to Portland. That's really what it is, the city has just been so good to us."Continue reading...

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Big Soda Shrinks Calories, Pushes Personal Responsibility

Posted by Dale Buss on September 24, 2014 05:13 PM

Soda marketers have been fighting gradual declines in US soft drink consumption for several years now. But with the imprimatur of the Clinton Global Initiative, which is meeting this week in New York in tandem with the UN General Assembly, the big three soda-makers behind the American Beverage Association (ABA) have decided to wrap a calorie-reduction PR campaign and associated pledges around this seemingly inexorable trend.

Under the auspices of the organization founded by former President Bill Clinton, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group this week pledged to reduce beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent nationally by 2025. Such calorie consumption already has dropped by about 12.4 percent between 2000 and last year, and 23 percent for carbonated drinks alone, estimated Beverage Digest.

In a collective statement issued by the ABA, top industry leaders gathered at the CGI meeting and pledged "engage in consumer education and outreach efforts to increase consumer awareness of and interest in the wide array of no- and lower-calorie beverages and smaller portion sizes available."

Under the banner of the Balanced Calories Initiative, the beverage industry leaders will put special emphasis on promoting reduced-calorie beverages in highly-trafficked sections of stores, such as checkout areas, and in communities (such as the president's birthplace of Little Rock, Ark., and the greater Los Angeles area) where purchases of low- and no-calorie soda drinks track behind the national average.Continue reading...

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Strange Brew: Starbucks Tests Beer-Flavored Latte That Tastes Like Guinness

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 22, 2014 01:14 PM

Starbucks locations across America have been filing for liquor licenses in the hopes of expanding their business hours and profits. While some have succeeded in getting licenses, others—such as one in hipster heaven Williamsburg, Brooklyn—have not. Soon, consumers there may have have another way to quench their craving for a beer-like beverage.

In its never-ending quest for innovative menu items, the global coffee purveyor is testing a dark-beer-inspired coffee drink called Dark Barrel Latte in a handful of locations across the US. And while customer reviews are mixed, if Starbucks works out the flavor kinks it may one day join (if not rival) the Pumpkin Spiced Latte as an annual autumnal limited-time menu item.Continue reading...

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