2 Shops Chase Pepsi’s SoBe

NEW YORK StrawberryFrog and Bartle Bogle Hegarty are vying for creative duties on SoBe, a PepsiCo brand that Fallon’s New York office previously handled, sources said.

Fallon closed its New York operation in September 2005, leaving SoBe without a lead agency. Each contender is pitching from its office here, with final presentations slated for later this month, sources said.

StrawberryFrog, an independent, and BBH, which is 49 percent owned by Publicis Groupe, declined comment.

Account billings could not be ascertained. In the past, SoBe has spent $5-10 million annually in major measured media, including $8 million last year and $4 million through the first half of 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Total spending in 2004 was around $6 million, per Nielsen.

One source expected spending to mirror past levels, while another source predicted that it would increase to about $20 million a year. SoBe, a unit of Pepsi in Norwalk, Conn., did not return calls.

Pepsi acquired the brand in 2001.

SoBe, which markets itself as “health refreshment” in the form of flavored teas, juice blends and energy drinks, competes with the likes of Snapple, Mad River and Red Bull.

Fallon’s work featured a “spokesperson” named Freddy who espoused the benefits of different SoBe beverages. The Publicis Groupe shop, which handled the business for three years, produced radio and outdoor ads as well as a Web site.