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Coke Zero to debut NASCAR TV spots during Daytona broadcast

BY Diana Alickaj

ATLANTA Coke Zero’s new NASCAR ad that actively stumped the famous drivers of NASCAR, is set to air on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Daytona 500, which the Fox network will be broadcasting.

The advertisement, which includes actors posing as Coca-Cola brand managers, is an extension of Coke Zero’s 2007 campaign in which “Coca-Cola managers” tried to sue their coworkers on the basis of “taste infringement,” because Coke Zero tastes so much like Coca Cola. As Coke Zero is now the official soft drink of NASCAR, this year’s ads will feature 30-second and 60-second spots of the same Coca-Cola brand managers now extending their passion against Coke Zero to NASCAR’s fastest drivers.

Labeled “NASCAR sabotage,” the ad shows the Coca-Cola brand managers trying to convince the NASCAR racers that they should “enjoy the track for longer” and “throw a race” so Coke Zero would not end up in the winner’s circle. The drivers featured in the commercial apparently did not realize that it was, in fact, a commercial, and were stunned by their suggestions.

Two-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart explained his confusion: “At first, the fake Coca-Cola brand guys came across as really serious, so we were trying to be polite and figure out what they were thinking, but the more they talked the crazier their ideas became until it got to be pretty unbelievable. While it was an unusual experience, Coke Zero is a fun brand and this was a clever way to shoot this commercial.”

The ad will feature top NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Petty, Eliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.

The 60-second version of the ad is set to air on the special Daytona 500 ad showcase on Nascar.com, which will begin at 7 a.m., and the 30- and 60-second versions will appear through cinemas and television throughout the racing season. All ads are currently posted at cokezero.com and NASCAR.com.

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Anheuser-Busch prepares to launch Bud Light with lime

BY DSN STAFF

CHICAGO Having watched rival Miller Brewing Co. take its fledgling lime-and-salt flavored Miller Chill brand national last year, Anheuser-Busch is getting ready for the launch of its lime-flavored Bud Light.

The brewer said it would support the May launch with a $35 million media, merchandising and sampling blitz, including entertainment and sports TV, online, print and outdoor ads.

“Our extensive consumer research indicates that the Bud Light Lime concept and taste are off the charts with today’s consumers,” the company’s vice president of innovations, Pat McGauley, and vice president of trademark brands, Dan McHugh, said. “This insight will allow us to take Bud Light to the next level.”

The company said the brand’s “consumer target” were light-beer drinkers ages 25 to 54 who prefer a “sweeter” beer, as well as “trendsetters and aspirers.”

Miller has done a respectable job with the Chill launch, according to industry executives, who claim the brand has sold 450,000 barrels, good for a 0.3 percent market share. At launch, the company said the goal was a 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent market share by the end of this year.

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Coke improves Q4 earnings per share by 79 percent

BY DSN STAFF

ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Co. Wednesday reported that fourth-quarter earnings increased 79 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis.

The company reported a per share increase of 52 cents, and 58 cents after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 12 percent.

Earnings per share for the quarter included a net charge of 6 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2006 were 29 cents and included a net charge of 23 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. an equity investee.

Earnings per share for the year were $2.57, an increase of 19 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis, and $2.70 after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 14 percent. Earnings per share for the year included a net charge of 13 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Full year 2006 earnings per share were $2.16 and included a net charge of 21 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at CCE.

“This has been a year of significant accomplishment,” said Neville Isdell, Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive officer. “We have delivered strong business results and increased value to our shareowners by expanding our consumer appeal across our beverage brands and connecting in very meaningful ways with the communities we serve. By successfully executing our clearly defined strategies with our bottling partners, we delivered 6 percent unit case volume growth for the year and four consecutive quarters of double-digit earnings per share growth.

“Importantly, this growth was balanced across our geographies and portfolio of brands. On a worldwide basis, sparkling beverage volume increased a solid 4 percent, and still beverages increased 12 percent. We remain focused on driving sustainable long-term growth and value for our shareowners, while delivering against our stakeholder needs each day. With our strategies in place, our expanded brand portfolio and our geographic balance, we are well prepared to respond to opportunities and challenges ahead and anticipate another good year in 2008.”

President and chief operating officer Muhtar Kent added, “Clearly, our strategies are right and our execution is working, as 2007 was a successful year for The Coca-Cola Co. As evident from our results, we consistently delivered on our promise of executing against our growth agenda. Our international business, led by the emerging markets, continues to drive our overall growth, while stabilizing key markets like Japan , the Philippines and North America underscores our ability to re-energize major markets.”

“I am pleased with the progress we made against our 2007 priorities,” Kent said. “We are now better positioned to capture the significant growth opportunities. As we look to 2008, the foundation is in place to deliver another successful year of balanced geographic and brand growth for The Coca-Cola Co” 

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