Press Clips: Coke Offers $1M for Sweetener Innovations

Coca-Cola Offers $1 Million for Sweetener Innovations

The Coca-Cola Company is seeking public input in finding new sugar alternatives, launching two “Sweetener Challenges” on the HeroX crowdsourcing platform, the Atlanta Business Journal reported last week.

The first challenge asks for scientists and researchers to work on discovering a “naturally sourced, safe, low- or no-calorie compound” that can be used as a sweetener for beverages. The grand prize for the discovery is $1 million.

The second challenge asks the general public to share their favorite methods of sweetening food and drinks in the “Sweet Story Challenge.” Up to five individuals with the most innovative methods could win $100,000 in total prize money.

“We’re always searching for newer, better ingredients, and we know that amazing ideas can come from anywhere,” Coca-Cola SVP and chief innovation officer Robert Long said in a statement. “These two challenges are very much rooted in our desire to make the drinks our consumers want to drink, and in our willingness to look beyond the walls of our company for breakthrough sugar alternatives that help us deliver the great taste people love but with less sugar and fewer calories.”

Soda Tax Thwacks Chicago’s Suburbs

Both businesses and consumers in the suburbs of Cook County are not taking kindly to Chicago’s new soda tax.

A report from the Chicago Tribune earlier this month found that the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages was driving some consumers to seek out dollar stores and other bargain priced outlets due to the price increases.

Some store owners told the Tribune it was too soon to tell how the tax would affect business, but lamented the increased tax burden on stocking inventory.

While sales could slump, Cook County is hoping the tax will provide a much-needed revenue needed to avoid cuts to essential services. The tax is expected to raise $67.5 million this eyar and about $200.6 million in 2018.

Will Smith Plugs JUST Water on Carpool Karaoke

James Corden, host of The Late Late Show on CBS, has managed to find consistent viral fame through his “Carpool Karaoke” segments, where pop stars ride through L.A. with Corden as they sing along to their greatest hits.

In the latest edition of the sketch, actor and rapper Will Smith sat in the passenger seat, and he brought along a bottle of JUST Water with him. Smith, who along with his son Jaden is an investor and board member for the company, plugged the brand’s eco-friendly packaging and flavor.

During the spot, Corden offered some less-than-enticing taglines for the brand, including “JUST Water — It’s like a bath for your mouth.” Playing the straight man, Smith offers up some less than enthused reactions.

The official clip posted to YouTube by The Late Late Show has reached more than 325,000 views since August 10.

NPR: Seltzer’s Popularity ‘Bubbles Up’

Sales for seltzer and sparkling water have gone up by 42 percent over the past five years, and the category is looking at an all-time high for its popularity in the U.S. beverage market.

Taking a look at one of beverage’s latest trends, NPR explored last week the seemingly sudden millennial obsession with National Beverage’s LaCroix, as well as the success of brands such as Polar that have managed to make a splash in the category by offering unique, limited-run flavors.

Bai Looks at Maturing its Marketing

Bai’s marketing department is looking to create a more mature image, but revamping for a more serious persona won’t be so easy for the company that just made its name with “funny, irreverent” commercials.

The New York Times spoke with Bai’s chief creative officer, Chad Portas, this week to find out how the company is looking to strike a balance between its humorous side and its goals of making an impact as a zero-sugar better-for-you beverage.

The enhanced water brand was one of the big winners from this year’s Super Bowl with its comedic “Bai, Bai, Bai” ad featuring actors Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake, and the company doesn’t want to entirely do away with a successful advertising strategy.

“We are a mature-enough brand to start talking about our philosophy as opposed to our product,” Portas told the Times. “This is really pulling back the curtain of our company.”