Donaldson said, Coca-Cola had no plans to flag or brag -- that is, it will not add to the cans notices that freshness dates appear on the bottoms nor will it advertise the freshness factor.By contrast, Pepsi will run an ambitious broadcast, print and outdoor campaign, by the BBDO Worldwide agency in New York, carrying the theme "Freshness dating from Diet Pepsi.In the same year, Diet Coke was recorded as having a 9.9 percent market share.

dating pepsi can-85

Yet Pepsi's decision to crack the code, as it were, could be risky if consumers prove to be as curious about soft-drink freshness as they are about whether a loaf of bread or a head of lettuce is thirst-quenching.

"All the research we've done leads us to believe it really isn't a consumer issue," Randy Donaldson, a spokesman for Coca-Cola in Atlanta, said.

In 20 percent of the country, he added, Coca-Cola had already replaced the internal-use code on can bottoms with consumer-readable dates, with the rest to follow.

But in the absence of evidence of intense consumer interest, Mr.

"There's one extreme case I heard of a 7-Eleven in the Mojave Desert," said Michael Jacobson, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Commercialism, another Washington-based activist organization, "so it might be useful to consumers to have freshness dating on diet drinks." The New York State Consumer Protection Board, in a statement yesterday, praised Pepsi for responding to its requests that go back to July 1992 for freshness dating on diet sodas. Jacobson expressed concern over whether "fresh might imply a healthfulness analogous to dairy products or fresh vegetables." The Pepsi executives' efforts to make freshness a quality consumers will consider when choosing among soft drinks are an attempt to stir up what has been a flat market.

Growth in the billion American soft drink industry has slowed during the 1990's.

Even Pepsi executives acknowledge that until last year, when the company started testing freshness dating in five cities, shoppers had rarely displayed any interest in, much less concern over, the freshness of their soft drinks.

"I would assume 'I'm going to have a nice, fresh Diet Pepsi' is not part of the consumer vocabulary," Mr. "But consumer interest in dates, labels, freshness is exploding," he added.

It will change the way you look at soft drinks." The television commercials began running last night. Weatherup demurred at a suggestion that in embracing freshness for soft drinks, Pepsi ran the risk of invoking its opposite: spoilage. "They don't think of it as a fresh vegetable." But then, they don't use the word "fresh," either.