Chiat/Day last week got a taste of Coca-Cola when the Venice, Calif.-based shop landed an assignment for Cherry Coke.
Sources close to the agency said that Chiat, which adds its name to the Coke club that now includes Fallon McElligott and Wieden & Kennedy, along with Creative Artists Agency, was awarded the assignment to help give Cherry Coke a new personality, one that's somewhat hipper than the mom-and-apple-pie image of Coca-Cola.
Cherry Coke has trailed Coke's premier brands - sales peaked at 198.4 million gallons in 1986, one year after it was introduced, and last year fell to 93.2 million gallons, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., a N.Y.-based consultant to the beverage industry. But sources said Coke officials are now viewing the brand as a contender for the market that Dr Pepper holds virtually exclusively. 'If they're drinking Coke now, and they switch to Dr Pepper - Coke wants to find a way to keep those consumers in the Coke family,' this source said.
Coke spent a mere $400,000 on the brand, which had been with McCann-Erickson/N.Y., last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting, but would likely boost spending substantially if it seriously pursued the Dr Pepper customer.
Cherry Coke 'is a hard product to sell because consumers don't know what it is,' said Leenie Rubin, president of the Atlanta-based Marketing Spectrum Consulting Firm. 'They don't know if it's expected to taste like Coke, cherry or Dr Pepper. How it sells depends greatly on the marketing they use to position it.'
With the market all to itself, Dr Pepper last year sold 651 million gallons. That represents an increase from 401 million gallons in 1986. 'There aren't an awful lot of other major brands that have a cherry flavor,' said Hellen Berry, vp at Beverage Marketing Corp., who described the Dr Pepper flavor as 'more pepper than cherry.' Still, she pointed out that Dr Pepper, because it was able to distinguish the flavor from colas, 'stands on its own in its own little area. That's helped it to become the success that it is.' Officials at C/D did not return calls. Coke executives declined comment.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)