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Food, beverage alliance to sue Chicago over bottled-water tax

BY Tara Smith

CHICAGO The American Beverage Association, the International Bottled Water Association, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Food Retailers Association plan to file a lawsuit challenging Chicago’s bottled-water tax, which took effect Tuesday.

The alliance of food and beverage retailer associations has long argued against the tax, which levies a 5 cent surcharge on every bottle of water bought in Chicago. The tax adds about 30 percent to the overall cost of a case of bottled water. Bottled-water retailers and manufacturers argue the tax is simply a thinly veiled money grab that will only drive shoppers and businesses out of the city.

“People are already leaving the city when it comes to gas, alcohol and cigarettes,” said Dave Vite, chief executive officers of the IRMA, a co-plaintiff in the expected lawsuit. “This will affect anybody that sells bottled water, because when customers do migrate, they take other business with them.”

On the other side of the debate, proponents of the tax have argued the tax will encourage water drinkers to forgo plastic water bottles in favor of tap water, as well as generate an estimated $10.5 million in tax revenues annually. The tax was approved by the city council in the fall as the first of its kind in the nation.

The associations will be represented by Jenner & Block in a suit expected to be filed in early January in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming the tax is illegal based on existing statutes that prohibit the state from singling out a specific food product with a specialized tax. “State law prohibits the City of Chicago from imposing a tax on a single product, like they have done with this bottled water tax,” Illinois Beverage Association Executive Director Tim Bramlet said.

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Interbrand to lead design, packaging initiatives for Wrigley

BY Tara Smith

CINCINNATI Interbrand today announced that its Cincinnati arm will lead the design and packaging initiatives for chewing gum giant Wm. Wrigley Co. of Chicago.

Ronny Kastner, executive director of the Cincinnati account management team, will serve as the Wrigley global relationship manager for the new account.

Wrigley Co., with global sales of $4 billion, produces and distributes 16 international brands and owns such chewing gum brands as Doublemint, Big Red, Winterfresh, Extra, Eclipse, Orbit and Excel, as well as confections that include mints, breath strips and candies. The company had 2007 revenues of $4.6 billion and an average two-year revenue growth of 13.3 percent, according to Bloomberg.

The Cincinnati office of Interbrand, which employs more than 100 at offices in Norwood at the Smith Road exit of I-71, expects the account to bring new jobs to its local division. Kastner led the pitch to be the single global packaging design agency for the Wrigley account.

“We are thrilled, as more than 12 agencies were at the start of the process,” Kastner said.

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Nike, Coke ring in the New Year with call to fitness ads

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK Nike and Coca-Cola are joining the bandwagon of the fitness advertisement surge which backs the most frequent New Year’s resolution—getting in shape.

Nike and Coca-Cola today announced a two-year deal, beginning Tuesday, with fitness network Exercise TV. The deal for undisclosed terms will place Coke’s Enviga green tea and brand images on some of the channel’s workout shows and create original Enviga programming. Enviga claims to help burn calories by speeding up metabolism with green tea extracts and caffeine.

Nike returns as a title sponsor for MTV’s New Year’s celebration and will kick off a fitness ad campaign around its “No Excuses” theme. “There’s no better way to deliver an inspiring message of health and fitness for the new year to the youth of America than through MTV,” said Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer.

Trend-watcher Marian Salzman at ad agency JWT stated that Coke and Nike are seizing a good opportunity to offer people a positive, action-oriented message as they try to move on from 2007’s credit crunch, housing slump, declining dollar and other woes.

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