Sprite launches first global ad campaign, hoping to 'spark" sales

Sometimes it's hard to be the old soda on the block. Since its introduction in 1961, Sprite -- the lemon-lime soda brand owned by Coca-Cola -- has quenched the thirsts of millions, but it hit a slump as it entered middle age. The problem? A younger lemon-lime upstart called Sierra Mist, rolled out by PepsiCo in 2000, has quickly gained market share, according to Advertising Age.

Could advertising be both the source of and the solution for Sprite's woes?
After years of advertising neglect, Coca-Cola is aiming to regain some of Sprite's effervescence with the brand's first ever global advertising campaign. The new campaign, called the "The Spark," is geared toward gaining new teen guzzlers. The name stems from the drink's updated "spark" logo (pictured) and turns on the idea that drinking a Sprite will spark originality and creativity, Coca-Cola says. The campaign will feature eight commercials that will be rolled out in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Entertainer Drake appears in one of the first ads, which aired during the Super Bowl pre-game. Called "Unleashed," the commercial shows Drake in the recording studio stumped for inspiration. When he gulps down a Sprite, he starts cracking into little robotic pieces only to come back together again full of inspiration. Drake will also be featured in an online interactive music mixer in March.

The new marketing push bumps Sprite's "Obey Your Thirst" campaign, which was introduced in 2004. During the past few years, Sprite had whittled its marketing spending down from $27.1 million in 2006 to $16.3 million in 2008, according to Advertising Age. Between 1999 and 2008 U.S. sales of the soft drink plunged 19%, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Like most big marketers, Sprite isn't just relying on TV commercials and traditional media to get its new message across. Coca-Cola says the new marketing push will focus on two stages, the first centering on music and the second on film. With its Sprite Spark Music project debut in March, soda fans will be able to share their remixes with friends or use them as mobile ring tones. The second phase, the Sprite Spark Film Project, will begin in April and allows consumers to edit their own 45-second animated films.

With such a big push, Coca-Cola better hope the campaign also sparks some consumers to become new Sprite drinkers.
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