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Coke gets into the holiday spirit

Launches limited edition Sprite Cranberry for the holiday season

Coca-Cola and Santa Claus go way back.

So it should come as no surprise that the iconic carbonated soft-drink maker launched a new Sprite flavour that aims to make the holidays more berry and bright.

Launched in mid-September in Canada—prior to Thanksgiving here and three weeks ahead of the U.S. launch—Sprite Cranberry combines the traditional lemon-lime taste of Sprite with the bitter bite of the festive-time berries.

"We know that Canadians will love serving Sprite Cranberry to their family and guests,” Michael Samoszewski, vice-president sparkling business unit at Coca-Cola, said at the Canadian launch.

Available in 12-packs of 355 ml cans, the new flavour will stay on Canadian store shelves through the end of the year, or until supplies last.

"It’s too soon for us to release any definitive sales information on Sprite Cranberry," Anne French, assistant brand of sparkling flavours at Coca-Cola, wrote in an email to Canadian Grocer. "But I would encourage consumers to pick up a 12-pack while supplies last."

According to French, the new Sprite Cranberry flavour is the latest in a long list of variants that the iconic carbonated soft-drink maker has developed since it introduced the German-made Sprite brand to North America in 1961, an era when Coke and Santa went together like turkey and cranberries.

"We often introduce beverages to the market for a limited time—to celebrate an event, create excitement or re-invigorate a popular brand or flavour," wrote French.

She noted that Cherry Coke was offered for a limited time across Canada this summer, and a special lemonade Powerade flavour was launched in the spring to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

For award-winning marketing professor and creativity crusader Darren Dahl, the new Sprite flavour is the same old for large consumer packaged goods companies like Coca Cola.

"They are always coming up with special edition products designed to keep consumers attention to the brand," said Dahl, senior associate dean and a product marketing professor at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

He pointed to several successful seasonal promotions, including Kellogg's Christmas-coloured Rice Krispies, Cadbury's Easter Cream Eggs, and McDonald's Shamrock Shakes.

"Not all of these things are so successful," said Dahl. "But the real goal is to get attention in a world where that's very hard to do."

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