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PowerAde pushes zero-calorie sports drink, challenges Gatorade

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK PowerAde, the sports drink produced by Coca-Cola, is boosting its sports beverage line by challenging competitor Gatorade with a lower-calorie product.

Earlier this month, Gatorade launched G2, a sports drink with fewer calories than original Gatorade. To challenge Gatorade, and in keeping in line with Coke’s other zero-calorie beverages—Coke Zero and Sprite Zero—PowerAde has launched PowerAde Zero with a print ad campaign starring tennis player Venus Williams next week. PowerAde Zero has no calories, versus G2’s 25 calories per bottle.

“PowerAde offers carbohydrates for those with intense workouts,” says Matt Kahn, vice president of marketing. “But there’s a whole group of calorie-conscious gym-goers. This is the first major brand to give hydration and electrolytes with zero calories.”

PowerAde said that the launch of PowerAde Zero is an attempt to stimulate growth in its segment. Its new Zero variety is available in strawberry, grape and mixed berry and is flavored with artificial sweeteners acesulfame potassium and sucralose.

G2 has only been on the market four months, but it has already claimed 8 percent of sports-drink sales. PowerAde hopes Zero will soak up a large portion of the segment.

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Campbell debuts Chunky Soup ads with Chargers’ star, unveils new foods at trade show

BY Jenna Duncan

CAMDEN, N.J. Campbell Soup Co. has been busily planning several launches for 2008. The newest in its ad campaign for Campbell’s Chunky Soup is a spot featuring LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers’ running back, the company announced today.

Campbell said it selected Tomlinson as a spokesman because he is known as one of the NFL’s most hard-working, generous and humble players. The Campbell ads featuring for the 2008 campaign are titled, “Working Day.” They went into production earlier this week in Los Angeles.

Campbell’s Chunky soups brand manager, Doug Brand, said, “As we enter our 11th consecutive season with the NFL, we are excited to introduce a new and different approach for this year’s advertising campaign S We are delighted to have LaDainian Tomlinson back for a second season and believe he is the foundation for the outstanding evolution of this new campaign. LaDainian is a stand-out athlete who truly represents all of the qualities of the Chunky soup brand—big-hearted, hardworking and fun—making him a natural fit as our spokesperson.”

Campbell also unveiled yesterday its new product line for the 2008-09 fiscal year at this year’s Food Marketing Institute meeting. The new group of foods is health- and vegetable-oriented and includes updates to some of Campbell’s soup lines, new Swanson cooking stocks and new flavors of Pace salsas.

Campbell’s said it has added two soups to its Healthy Request line; chicken corn chowder and sirloin burger with country vegetables. Both selections are lower sodium than traditional Campbell soups.

The company has also announced in February is has plans to revamps its whole line of Campbell’s Kids soups to bring them up to par with the government’s standard for “healthy” foods.

Consumers may visit www.chunky.com for more details on Campbell’s Chunky soups.

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Tootsie Roll maintains independence during times of consolidation

BY Jenna Duncan

CHICAGO The news of the pending sale of Wrigley to Mars this week has left speculators scanning the market for other independent confectioners who have withstood looming threats of consolidation. But one American candy industry stalwart, Tootsie Roll, seems to have no plans to sell any time soon.

Family-owned and led by 88-year-old chief executive officer Melvin Gordon and his wife, 76-year-old president Ellen Gordon, have been mum with their shareholders on the topic of selling.

Many shareholders, and even he company’s stock analyst, have indicated that they thought a sale such as the transaction that put Wrigley in the hands of Mars would be the best thing for Tootsie Roll. Some believe that leadership by an industry giant might help grow distribution and sales and keep the candy company afloat in a rough economy—especially in overseas markets where growth is projected.

Tootsie Roll reported that its profit fell by 22 percent last year and its first quarter of 2008 was even worse. The company said that it is suffering from the soaring costs of ingredients.

But despite its losses, the company has been moot on the topic of potential buyers and its current leadership appears to be firmly in place.

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