'Cola Wars' Heat Up As Coke Announces Super Bowl Spots

A battle in the exceedingly clichéd "Cola Wars" will take place in the coming Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola said Wednesday it will advertise in the big game for the first time since 1998 with three spots.

That comes two weeks after Pepsi said it would sponsor the halftime show starring Prince, while an in-game spot is likely as the brand undergoes a major reorientation supported by a huge marketing push.

A Coke spokeswoman said Pepsi's involvement--it's been a Super Bowl mainstay for years--had no impact on Coke's willingness to purchase the time. "The decision was not based on what anybody else is dong, but what's right for our brand," she said.

A Pepsi spokeswoman did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

While Pepsi's flagship brand will receive considerable exposure during halftime, Pepsi's parent company has also bought 90 seconds of time during the action. But the company spokeswoman, in an earlier e-mail, said PepsiCo has not determined which brands it will promote in what presumably will be three spots (Diet Pepsi is likely for one).



Coca-Cola, on the other hand, is using its two minutes' worth of spots to back its flagship brand via the "Coke Side of Life" campaign. While many marketers are loathe to run already-aired ads during the Super Bowl, two of Coke's three will have already debuted.

One spot hit the air in the premiere of "American Idol," while another debuted in an "Idol" episode this week. The company's third spot, however, will take the more traditional route and premiere in the game, a move aimed at capitalizing on the surprise element.

The Coke spokeswoman said the company opted to run two spots in the Super Bowl already seen on "Idol" as a reach tactic. With both programs viewed by the masses, Coke felt it had a good chance of conveying its message to a gargantuan audience. "To put these ads on both of them reaches almost 200 million," the spokeswoman said. "We're in the two biggest places that people are watching television right now."

"Idol"--where Coke is a charter sponsor and has a presence all season--and the Super Bowl are just two high-profile venues the marketer is employing to pump sales leading into the spring and summer. A new Coke ad is set for the Daytona 500, "NASCAR's Super Bowl." And a Coke spot could appear in the Oscar telecast, though the company's slew of spots in the awards ceremony will focus on Diet Coke, the official soft drink sponsor.

Pepsi's fledgling brand reorientation, billed as a "restyle," will include new package graphics that will change every few weeks. The company says the graphic changes are aimed at spotlighting "themes close to the hearts of teens and young adults, such as sports, music, fashion and cars." (Pepsi's logo and brand lettering will remain the same.)

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