NEW YORK: Coca-Cola is currently the most talked-about brand in America, according to a new study by the Keller Fay Group, a New Jersey based specialist in word-of-mouth marketing whose flagship client is – er – Coca-Cola.

Also adorning the Top Five rankings are AT&T (2); Verizon (3); rival megabrand and fellow Keller Fay client, Pepsi (4); and Wal-Mart (5).

Keller Fay's brand rankings are based on TalkTrack, a surveillance of 25,142 consumer conversations conducted both on- and off-line between January and August 2008.

Of the first-ranked brand icon, Beverage Business Insights editor Gerry Khermouch tips his hat to Coke: "They've been working [WOM] channels pretty adeptly, and clearly have learned a great deal since turning their corporate nose up at all the Diet Coke/Mentos experiments a couple of years ago.

"The accomplishment is all the more impressive since a basic carbonated soft drink is not inherently buzzworthy."

But, argues Dave Balter, ceo of WOM agency BzzAgent: "People like to talk about things they use everyday. If you have a frequency of use for a product, it gives you more reason to talk about it."

Meantime, in a feat of horn-blowing second only to the late great Satchmo, Coca-Cola North America cmo Katie Bayne blew her bugle loud 'n' clear.

"We're actively and consistently fueling buzz through innovative efforts like the nearly 11 million-household My Coke Rewards program . . . top-rated Super Bowl and Internet advertising, and an Olympic program that connected the world over a Coke."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff