Coke Hits Celeb Button: Music, Sports Stars to Pitch Brands Again – Coca-Cola has deals with Aguilera and Berman – Brief Article

Theresa Howard

True to its promise to return to the entertainment arena, Coca-Cola has inked deals with pop-star Christina Aguilera for a Coke Classic partnership and sportscaster Chris Berman for its Diet Coke brand.

Coke is also in talks with pop-country’s The Dixie Chicks for Diet Coke and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana for a Super Bowl promotion slated to build on an in-store partnership with Kraft begun last year, sources said.

The stream of personalities marks a shift by Coke to regain sizzle via celebrity endorsements. Earlier this year, Coke tapped Creative Artists Agency to serve as its eyes and ears on talent deals for its family of brands. CAA represents Aguilera, and talks have been underway since the spring, sources said. Coke will extend a link with Aguilera in Latin America to the U.S. for the year-long deal.

Coke plans to use the talent in upcoming TV ads, which generally have been delayed by the now five-month-old Screen Actors Guild strike, Initially Coke planned to use the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Ron Howard in Diet Coke ads (Brandweek, April 10).

For the Berman spot, the scenario calls for the high-energy sports personality to comment on a game–a child’s soccer game where he drinks a Diet Coke on the sidelines.

The Aguilera deal, kicking off during the holidays with the artist’s release of a Christmas album, is said to incorporate a cameo in ads, sponsorship of a summer 2001 tour and promotions tied to the release of two more albums, including one for Latin audiences, next year.

Coke is also beefing up its teen targeting efforts this fall with extensive product placement on the WB show, Young Americans, and two new spots, via Cliff Freeman, N.Y, airing next week that use a Volkswagen-esque approach. “Campfire” and “Rooftop” show a diverse mix of teens hanging out, dancing and watching the sunset with fortune cookie-like messages such as “Share Something Real” inked on the bottom of cans. The final message is “Enjoy.”

Despite a smattering of marketing initiatives, Coke has yet to find a silver bullet to combat soft sales. Could celebs help?

In the past, celebrities became “very outspoken,” said a bottler “and the product became secondary. That can’t happen again.”

COPYRIGHT 2000 BPI Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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