Coming Soon: Diet Sprite Zero

No, it’s not a new drink. Here’s the scoop according to Dow Jones Newswire and the Motley Fool:

Diet Sprite will be christened with a new name in a couple of weeks: Diet Sprite Zero. Why, you ask? Here’s the apparent logic behind the marketing concept: Zero implies an absence of quantity. What do people who are watching their weight look for? Yep, that’s right — an absence of any and all unnecessary calories. That’s what you get with a diet drink, and that’s what you get with Diet Sprite.

Coca-Cola and competitor PepsiCo are chasing all growth opportunities, and the best way these concerns know how is to constantly innovate their marketing schemes. They, of course, can develop new products to capture growth — Coke’s C2 and Pepsi’s Edge are two examples — but reenergizing a brand via new packaging and a new title can oftentimes be more effective, both in terms of cost and creativity. Plus, you don’t have to worry about potentially damaging backlash to a different concept; “New Coke,” you’ll recall, wasn’t appreciated by the beverage marketplace.

Diet Sprite Zero has a nifty ring to it; the “Zero” at the end confers an almost quasi-sci-fi connotation to it, if you get what I mean. Maybe it will provide a hip hook that dieting teenagers can latch onto. After all, Coke wants its consumers to be as young as possible so brand loyalty can settle in nicely.

I’ve already seen a billboard for this. The bottle packaging is weird because they run the logo sideways parallel with the bottle’s orientation.

Here’s my take… “Diet Sprite Zero” is a temporary name that will eventually become just “Sprite Zero”. I see Coke phasing out the “Diet” portion of the name. It’s a lot like when SBC bought out Ameritech in our area. For a while they were “Ameritech”, then they were “SBC Ameritech”, and finally just “SBC”.

On top of that, Coke already uses the “Sprite Zero” brand in other countries, like in Argentina, where they just relaunched “Sprite Light” as “Sprite Zero”.

Finally, a November 21, 2003 editorial in Beverage Digest also hints at a name change:

As industry prepares for unprecedented push behind diet CSDs next year, Coke system executives say Coke “probably” changes name of Diet Sprite to “Sprite Zero” in North America. One bottler says, “it’s a done deal.” Another says, “it’s 60-40.” Most bottlers talk as if it will happen. One bottler, asked for comment, declares: “This is still a secret.”

…”the word ‘diet’ may not be a positive for some consumers.”

…Several bottlers also say word “diet” isn’t broad enough. They claim “Sprite Zero would speak to a healthy product: no calories, no carbs, no caffeine.”