Pepsi Looks to Sweeten Diet Brand

Tweaks formula ahead of major campaign

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In early December, PepsiCo began rolling out a new sweetener mix for Diet Pepsi that sprinkles in acesulfame potassium—an ingredient used in sister brand Diet Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola's Diet Sprite—with the beverage's mainstay sugar replacement, the more widely used aspartame. The tweaked Diet Pepsi formula has hit the shelves in a few markets nationwide but will be seen in retail locations throughout the U.S. in the coming weeks, according to an Associated Press story.

"It's not like a light switch," PepsiCo spokeswoman Andrea Canabal told the AP. "It'll start appearing as shelf space clears."

The move comes ahead of a major brand campaign hitting the airwaves in January 2013 called "Love Every Sip." The spots will feature Sofia Vergara, who has been appearing in the name of the brand for several months.

Pepsi can only hope the new formula helps recapture market share it's lost to Coke products in the last couple of years. During that time, the Purchase, N.Y.-based beverage maker has focused on efforts like "Refresh Everything" that combine cause marketing and social media. While now it seems like PepsiCo could be returning to its more traditional advertising roots, it still has its eye on innovation.

For instance, last week, it announced a $50 million deal with Beyonce Knowles. While the multi-year deal includes normal promotional vehicles such as TV spots and print ads, it also entails giving Knowles free rein to create Pepsi-branded and non-branded digital experiences and offline events like photo shoots in the name of Pepsi.

Pepsi, the flagship brand, fell from second to third among sodas in 2010 after decades of sitting directly behind No. 1 Coke. It now also stands behind Diet Coke. According to Beverage Digest, Diet Pepsi is the seventh-biggest carbonated beverage with 4.9 percent of the market.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.