Coca-Cola To Sell Berry-Flavored Sprite Remix In April

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Sprite Remix added a little sweetness to souring sales in the lemon-lime category last year.

In April, Coca-Cola Co. (KO) will mix things up again by introducing a berry-flavored version of Sprite Remix.

The Atlanta beverage company began selling a tropical-flavored Sprite Remix last April. Since then, the company has promoted the drink with DJ-inspired images such as the “remix” stations it used as it traveled from place-to-place providing free samples of the product to consumers.

Berryclear Sprite Remix will be the next tune in what may become an expanding catalog of Sprite Remix flavors.

Tropical Sprite Remix will fade out and Berryclear will fade in, said John Carroll, group director for Sprite at Coca-Cola North America.

Until then, consumers will be able to mix their own flavored versions of Sprite. The company is putting about 35,000 cold-drink barrels in convenience stores throughout the U.S. with flavor packets of grape, cherry and mixed berry that can be squeezed into soft drinks. The promotion, called Flavor Hits, will be available through March.

Coke’s market research showed teens were already experimenting with Sprite by adding fruit juices and even Skittles candies to make different flavors, Carroll said.

Sprite is Coke’s third-largest brand in the U.S. and one of its most youthful, with more than half of Sprite drinkers under the age of 24.

Sprite trademark volume rose 7% from 2002 to 2003, said Coca-Cola spokeswoman Susan McDermott. Both Remix and Diet Sprite contributed to the increase, she said.

The effort behind Sprite Remix is just part of an overall plan to support the Sprite trademark this year.

The company is about to unveil new advertising for Sprite developed by WPP Group PLC’s (WPPGY) Ogilvy & Mather. The ads, which use a 10-inch vinyl figure named Miles Thirst to promote Sprite, will make their debut Saturday on the TNT telecast of “NBA All-Star Saturday Night” during the “Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk” competition.

The ads won’t be Thirst’s first public appearance. The character, which sports a large Afro, sunglasses and baggy, hip-hop style clothing, has been showing up on Web sites popular with teens and even has his own Web site: www.milesthirst.com. However, until the TV commercial airs, Thirst’s connection with Sprite hasn’t been a focus, Carroll said.

Sprite also has a number of other marketing programs planned for the brand, including a repositioning of diet Sprite.

-By Christina Cheddar Berk; Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-5166; christina.cheddar@dowjones.com