Coca-Cola Takes Its Soda On A Spin With DJ Marshmello

Coca-Cola has another new flavor. This time, it got some help.

The latest product out of Coca-Cola Creations — Coke’s innovation platform, which brought us starlight and pixel-flavored sodas — is a collaboration with Marshmello, a masked DJ and electronic music producer.

If you think the artist worked with Coke to develop a marshmallow-flavored beverage, you’re wrong. Instead, the new flavor has notes of strawberry and watermelon, Marshmello’s favorites.

“For our third Coca-Cola Creations drop, we sought to add an unexpected remix of flavors to a great Coca-Cola taste,” said Oana Vlad, senior director of global strategy at the company, in a statement announcing the collaboration Wednesday.

“We created a vibey blend of my favorite flavors in this all-new mix,” Marshmello said in a statement. “I think it tastes amazing and I hope fans love it too.”

The new flavor, which also comes in a zero-sugar variety, will be available for purchase starting on July 11 in the United States for a limited time. It will be offered in other countries later this summer.

It’s vital for Coca-Cola (KO), which has discontinued beloved but outdated drinks like TabOdwalla and Honest Tea, to get young consumers excited about its core product, Coke. Coca-Cola Creations, which launches digital experiences along with the limited-edition flavors, is designed to help do that.

So far, the flavors have been … abstract.

Starlight was “inspired by space,” the company said in February, describing it as having “notes reminiscent of stargazing around a campfire, as well as a cooling sensation that evokes the feeling of a cold journey to space.”

Byte, the second flavor, “makes the intangible taste of the pixel tangible,” said Vlad when it launched in April.

Compared to space and pixels, strawberry and watermelon are perfectly mundane. And the idea of partnering with artists on products featuring their favorite flavors is not new, at least in the fast food world.

McDonald’s (MCD) has had success with its celebrity meals, versions of artists’ preferred orders that are available for a limited time. The burger chain has teamed up with Travis ScottBTS and Saweetie, among others. Burger King has followed with its own celebrity deals.

For Coca-Cola, this is the first time a beverage has been created with an artist, the company said.

Source: CNN

What Really Made Coca-Cola Discontinue Honest Tea—And What It Means For Mission-Driven Brands

Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman described it as a “gut punch.” This week, the Coca-Cola Co. announced it is killing the brand he created back in 1998. 

That’s quite a twist in a story that had long seemed like a case study in how a mission-driven brand built around ethical principles—organic ingredients, Fair Trade Certified partners—could capture a changing consumer zeitgeist, connect with an audience, and go big.

Instead, the brand will be “phased out” of the Coca-Cola Co.’s beverage portfolio at the end of 2022. (It’s keeping a spin-off line of organic juice products called Honest Kids.)

Since selling Honest Tea in a multimillion-dollar deal, Goldman has moved on to help found ethical-food startups Eat the Change and PLNT Burger, and serve as the chair of Beyond Meat’s board. He took to LinkedIn to pay tribute to “the sweat, tears, and incredible passion that went into building our beloved brand.”

Perhaps Honest Tea will still live on as a case study: How an apparently successful mission-driven brand can beat the odds, transcend its niche, find a backer who believes in it, make the transition to the mainstream—and still end up dying. 

Coca-Cola assumed full ownership eventually. Goldman stayed involved, and Honest Tea remained in its Bethesda, Maryland, home base. The product itself was never watered down, and as late as 2018 Goldman still saw it as poised for “global growth.” Sales had reportedly risen from $71 million in 2010 to around $600 million. 

But the brand’s momentum had slowed. Sales in the first half of 2019 declined 16%, according to Beverage Digest, in the midst of a wider decline in ready-to-drink tea sales.

The market had gotten far more competitive, and shelves were crowded with functional beverages, cold brew coffees, and antioxidant waters. The consumer zeitgeist that helped propel Honest Tea’s success had shifted. At the end of that year, Goldman left the company to pursue new ventures; Honest Tea’s offices were moved to Atlanta. 

Coke, meanwhile, appeared to lose enthusiasm for niche-ier brands in general, according to a 2021 Business Insider report. And in its announcement this week, the company explained the move as a straightforward consolidation of its tea strategy, sacrificing Honest Tea to focus on two more successful lines.

Those two would be Gold Peak, a virtuous-looking bottled tea brand that Coke has backed with nationwide marketing, and Peace Tea, a growing regional offering that has “a loyal, Gen Z following.” Neither hits the various mission-y notes that defined the Honest brand. 

Honest Tea’s identity, in contrast, seemed less flexible or expansive. And that was fine when the consumer mood was moving in its direction—but feels more limiting now. A sincere mission can help a brand break through to a solid, loyal audience of consumers. But put that mission-centric brand in the middle of a mass-oriented owner’s sprawling portfolio, and that same identity can become a constraint.

Honest Tea really did carve out an authentic, specific space in the consumer landscape: It truly stood for something. And that, in the end, was its downfall.

Source: Fast Company

Coca-Cola Opens UK Pop-Up Store With High-End Fashion Collabs And Beverage Bar

Coca-Cola has been in the beverage game since 1886. In that long, storied history, Coca-Cola has not only sold a lot of soda worldwide but spawned a thriving ecosystem full of sought-after, licensed memorabilia. The cola king’s signature red, Spencerian script wordmark, ribbon, and contour bottles add value and desirability to everything from vintage appliances, vending machines, and promotional displays to clothing, toys, and personalized cans and bottles.

Now, the brand is bringing a retail IRL experience to the UK with a pop-up store in London’s Covent Garden. Running now through September, Coca-Cola’s retail shop features a beverage bar serving classic Coke products, including mocktails, exclusive merchandise, and clothing collaborations with Alma de Ace, BAPE, BE@RBRICK, Herschel, Soho Grit, and Staple. Additionally, the Coca-Cola store will offer limited-edition merchandise for Pride this upcoming June.

While brands are racing to launch NFTs and meta everything, Coca-Cola seems to be opting for IRL experiences with pop-up stores. Not only that, but they released high-concept sodas like Starlight and Pixel, which flips the script on Web3, bringing digital to the real world instead of the other way around.

Guess it’s nice to be able to physically hold your creations, huh?

Source: The Dieline

Pepsi Mango To Become First Permanent Fixture In Five Years

Pepsi is bringing back its Pepsi Mango. The drink was previously a limited-time offering during spring, but it will now be available as a permanent fixture — the first time Pepsi made a permanent fixture in five years.

As its name suggests, the drink is a sweet concoction of mango fruit and Pepsi, mixing tropical flavors with crisp cola fizz. Customers will have the option of getting the beverage in 12-packs of 12-ounce cans or 20-ounce bottles. To kick off the drink, Pepsi will be launching a matchmaking social media series for singles. The campaign will host singles with bio descriptions and contact information to encourage introductions. Vice President of Marketing at Pepsi, Todd Kaplan, expressed excitement for the new flavor: “Mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world, and it serves as the perfect complement to Pepsi, creating an irresistible combination that our fans can enjoy everywhere throughout the year.”

Source: Hypebeast

LeBron James Leaving Coca-Cola, Set To Sign Deal With PepsiCo

LeBron James is preparing to join PepsiCo after a long-standing sponsorship with Coca-Cola, sources told Front Office Sports.

James would join a growing team of NBA and WNBA stars pitching the rebranded “MTN DEW”: Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans; Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers; Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets; and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces.

According to sources, James will become the face of Mountain Dew’s upcoming “Rise Energy” line after nearly 18 years as an endorser for Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Powerade brands.

The 36-year old James could also pitch Pepsi’s flagship cola brand, said sources.

The pending deal may also include integration with Blaze Pizza, which currently offers Coca-Cola products at its more than 300 locations. James owns an approximate 10% stake of the chain.

Representatives for PepsiCo declined to comment. A spokesperson for James also declined to comment. 

An 18-year-old James first signed with Coca-Cola in 2003 as a No. 1 draft pick. The four-time MVP has since appeared regularly in Sprite and Powerade commercials. In 2014 the beverage giant gave him his own signature drink, “Sprite 6 Mix by LeBron James.”

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola told Front Office Sports that his deal with the Atlanta-based soda giant expired in September.

“LeBron’s contract came up at a time when both he and The Coca-Cola Company were actively reviewing all of its resources to make sure it was investing in places that ensured long-term growth,” Coca-Cola said. “After many discussions with Lebron and his team, we mutually agreed to part ways.”

PepsiCo’s beverage brands and the NBA have become increasingly entwined. 

In 2015, PepsiCo replaced Coca-Cola as the official food and beverage partner of the NBA and WNBA. The blockbuster deal ended Coke’s 28-year partnership with the NBA.

Rather than playing up its eponymous cola, PepsiCo has focused its NBA advertising and activations on citrus-flavored Mountain Dew. 

The 2020 All-Star Game’s 3-Point Contest introduced the “DEW Zone” — two attempts from six feet behind the arc, worth three points each. For the third straight year, Mountain Dew also offered fans a branded “Courtside Studio,” with player appearances, music and fashion.

Parent PepsiCo, meanwhile, expanded into caffeinated beverages, buying Rockstar energy drinks for $3.85 billion last March. 

James is one of the world’s most popular and successful endorsers, following the path blazed by the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. 

He signed a lifetime deal with Nike in 2015 that could be worth as much as $1 billion over its duration. He’s been one of the brand’s key ambassadors since he entered the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

It’s estimated that James will eclipse $1 billion in career earnings before he retires from the NBA; his endorsements, production companies and other sources account for more than half of that figure.

In December, James signed a two-year extension with the Lakers that will push his career NBA earnings past $420 million by the conclusion of  the 2022-23 season. 

Source: Front Office Sports

Aluminum shortage – Beer, soda makers struggle with aluminum can supply, plan to limit niche drinks

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A shortage of aluminum cans is crimping supplies of certain drinks, industry officials said.

“Aluminum cans are in very tight supply with so many people buying more multi-pack products to consume at home,” Coca-Cola spokesperson Ann Moore said Wednesday in an email.

Can manufacturers announced plans to build at least three factories within the next 18 months, but that won’t solve the immediate supply issues.

“The aluminum beverage can manufacturing industry has seen unprecedented demand for this environmentally friendly container prior to and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Aluminum Association, an industry group representing the metal’s manufacturers, said in a statement. “Many new beverages are coming to market in cans, and other long-standing can customers are moving away from plastic bottles due to ongoing environmental concerns around plastic pollution. Consumers also appear to be favoring the portability and storability of cans as they spend more time at home.”

Source: USA Today

Christmas sweater with Santa and cocaine forces Walmart to apologize

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“These sweaters, sold by a third-party seller on Walmart.ca (our website in Canada), do not represent Walmart’s values and have no place on our website,” Walmart said in an updated statement Monday. “We have removed these products from our marketplace. We apologize for any unintended offense this may have caused. These sweaters were not offered on Walmart.com in the U.S.”

Source: CNN