By Sandra Baker
FORT WORTH, May 2 - Coca-Cola transformed a vacant building in the Fort Worth Stockyards into a quaint Mexican market this week, using the location to shoot a commercial for its Fanta brand.
The setting was no coincidence. Coca-Cola is bringing Fanta, a mainstay for the company in foreign markets, back to the United States after more than a decade.
Fanta is Coca-Cola's No. 2 brand in Mexico, and the company learned that the beverage was being imported into Texas from across the border.
In January, Coca-Cola chose Texas as a launching pad to reintroduce Fanta in the United States. The Stockyards location, an old brick building in the 200 block of West Exchange Avenue, lends "a heart" to the brand, said Alexandre Zigliara, Texas brand development manager for Coke's noncola brands.
"It has a Latino feel, but it's not limiting," Zigliara said.
Coca-Cola is adapting a similar, popular ad that it has used in France.
The spot - called "Drop," which is being filmed and produced by the Kansas City, Missouri, agency VML - features Dallas actress Farah White, a Texan of Latin descent.
Filming started about 9 a.m. Tuesday and lasted several hours. In the spot, four teen-age boys flirt with a girl played by White, who is drinking an orange Fanta on her balcony. A drop falls to one of the boys' foreheads, and the girl comes down and kisses the drop from his brow.
"She doesn't want to waste the drop," Zigliara said.
The ad's tagline is "Share What's Fun." The crew filmed nine scenes, which will be edited into a 30-second spot that will begin appearing in June in mainstream and Hispanic venues in the Metroplex and Houston.
The commercial will also be aired statewide and will be the prototype for commercials in other U.S. markets this year as Fanta is rolled out nationally, Coca-Cola said.
Coca-Cola is initially targeting the Hispanic market with the spot, Zigliara said. But he said the company believes that the campaign "will have crossover appeal" to other ethnic groups.
The ads targeting Hispanics are no surprise
During the past decade, companies have heavily courted Hispanic consumers as the segment has grown in numbers, income and market power. Within the past three years, many new marketers have tapped into potential growth opportunities for products with Hispanic- related advertising, said Lewis Garcia, president of Garcia LKS 360 Degrees, a San Antonio advertising agency.
"We have seen totally new companies that have never advertised in the market rush their plans," Garcia said. "The Hispanic market has grown. The size is such that corporations can't ignore it."
Coca-Cola acquired Fanta from a German company years ago, and introduced the product in the United States in 1958 in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. It pulled the brand from the U.S. market in the early 1980s, but continued to sell it in 188 foreign countries. Fanta is the drink maker's No. 2 brand, said Maria Perez, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman.
Coca-Cola also brought out Fanta in Southern California this year. It is also available in some areas of Arizona, New Mexico, Florida, and Atlanta, Perez said.
Fanta is available here in orange and pineapple flavors, and it will soon be available in lemon, apple and pink grapefruit.
Coca-Cola will continue to sell its Minute Maid brand of carbonated soft drinks, which come in orange, grape, strawberry and fruit punch flavors, Perez said.
The growth of Fanta might highlight another trend in the beverage industry. John Rodwan, editorial director for Beverage Marketing Corp. in New York, a research, consulting and financial services firm, said consumers may see a lot more advertising of the noncola drinks as beverage companies look for new markets.
Consumers have reached "cola fatigue," and that is reflected in market share numbers, he said. The carbonated drink industry has been sluggish, and in the past two years only grew one-half percent from the year before, according to Beverage Marketing.
In 1994, colas accounted for 63 percent of sales in the carbonated drink market. Today, that number has slid to 58 percent, and drink- makers are counting on other products to pick up the slack.
"The flavor segments are growing faster than the colas," Rodwan said.
In 2000, 10 billion cases of cola drinks were consumed in the United States, and 15.3 billion cases of all carbonated drinks.
Coca-Cola led the industry with a 44 percent market share, seeing some of the stronghold coming from its Minute Maid soft drinks, Beverage Marketing said.
Pepsi is introducing a new Mountain Dew brand called Code Red as its response to the noncola market.
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