Lemon-lime Sprite is the best-selling non-cola brand in Coca-Cola's US portfolio, and #2 worldwide behind Fanta. Combined sales are estimated at around $6.5bn. Marketed in 190 countries around the world, Sprite has a broad international appeal, and the core brand and its Zero (or "Z") variant are accompanied by a large collection of international variants, many of them available only for limited periods, in flavours including mint, berry, cherry, ginger and even cucumber. The drink competes with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist in the US, as well as 7-Up worldwide. In terms of its global profile, it is one of the group's most diverse brands. Unlike Coke and even Fanta, Sprite's marketing varies quite dramatically from one region to another, despite a shared underlying concept of pure refreshment. In the US, in particular, it has for several years been targeted primarily at an African-American audience. It was arguably ahead of the curve in the 1980s, featuring rappers such as Kurtis Blow and Heavy D in its ads, and it has retained strong ties to that market ever since. The 2016 "Lyrical Collection" promotion, for example, featured a range of limited edition cans illustrated with lyrics from classic rap tracks, a distinct difference from an accompanying Coke campaign that drew from rock and pop songs. Basketball star Lebron James has featured in the brand's marketing since his rookie season in 2003 and even developed his own version of the drink, marketed as Sprite 6 Mix. Sprite also had close links to the National Basketball Association until losing that sponsorship to rival Mountain Dew in 2015. Oddly enough, the "Sprite Boy" was originally introduced as an advertising mascot for the main Coca-Cola brand in the 1940s to illustrate the drink's sparkle. He was repurposed in 1961 for a new lemon-lime drink designed by company to compete with rival 7-Up. In several other countries the drink was introduced initially under the existing Fanta banner (as Fanta Clear), before adopting the Sprite name. Jose "Pepe" Serafin is global director for flavour sparkling brands Sprite and Fanta.
Capsule checked 25th February 2019
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Who are the competitors of Sprite? See Non Alcoholic Beverages Sector index
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Adbrands Daily Update 29th June 2020: "Dreams Realised". More perhaps than any other brand in Coca-Cola's portfolio, Sprite has for almost 40 years targeted its message in the US at an African-American audience. Ad man Steve Stoute's book 'The Tanning of America' noted how in the mid-1980's Coke successfully aligned Sprite with the emerging hip-hop movement and has never looked back. From Kurtis Blow in 1986 through A Tribe Called Quest, Roxanne Shante, Missy Elliott and others in the 1990s to Drake, Lil Yachty, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the 2010s, the brand has regularly signed up top rappers and sporting stars as its brand ambassadors, making it, in the words of cultural commentator Ann-Derrick Gaillot, "the unofficial 'black people soda', even if no executive would admit it". Yet never before has Sprite politicised that message as openly as in this fine new spot from Wieden & Kennedy New York, created specially for last Sunday's televised BET Awards. "The American Dream - it wasn't made for everybody. It forgot about one very important detail: Black America." Yet now it's really time to level the playing field. "Black Americans woke up a long time ago and set out to make their own dream." Let's finally help to make that dream a reality.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th April 2015: PepsiCo and arch-rival Coca-Cola Company swapped sporting sponsorships in the US, with Pepsi winning the new deal with the NBA, but surrendering Major League Soccer. Under the new arrangement which starts in July, Coke-owned Sprite will be replaced for the first time since 1994 as official NBA soft drinks sponsor by PepsiCo's (higher-selling) Mountain Dew. The deal is also said to include snack brands including Ruffles and Doritos and Aquafina water. Group-owned Gatorade is already an NBA partner. However, Coca-Cola announced it had taken over Pepsi's partnership with Major League Soccer.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Sep 2013: Coca-Cola continued to tweak US marketing of Sprite towards an urban audience, moving general creative from Leo Burnett to Steve Stoute's Translation.
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