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.
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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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