ATLANTA: Coca-Cola's nil-calorie soda Zero, launched in June 2005, is set for a massive marketing campaign in the year ahead, reports Advertising Age.

The magazine cites TNS Media Intelligence's estimate that Coke spent around $23 million (€17.43m; £11.74m) in measured media on the Zero brand through September 2006.

This compares with Diet Coke's $57m and Coke Classic's $120 million. In 2007, however, Zero is set to comfortably outspend its sibling cola variants.

By means it did not disclose, AdAge managed to lay hands on a Coca-Cola internal marketing document which details the beverage behemoth's marketing objectives and spending plans for the year ahead.

Compared with its relatively modest outlay in 2006, Zero has this year budgeted adspend of $133m on NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) games alone.

The marketing plan describes Zero as "critical to the health of the [Coca-Cola] portfolio to transition males before they leave" colleges and universities. To achieve this, avers the document: "Coke Zero will continue to be supported at even higher levels in 2007, building it into the next mega-brand.

"Coke Zero should be a key part of every channel plan in 2007," continues the screed, indicating that Coke will place the brand on every display next to Coke Classic, and in every "high-velocity" cold-drink outlet.

Coca-Cola executives are coy about the leaked document, lips firmly pursed in archetypal Atlantean fashion.

However, this did not deter Beverage Digest publisher/editor John Sicher was from opining that the brand's "performance this year will determine whether or when it reaches megabrand status" of 100 million-plus cases.

Zero's 2007 media schedule includes year-round national TV and digital support including the NCAA. National print will also feature around the fall football season, as will sponsorship of the Notre Dame football team.

March will see ads on AOL, Grey's Anatomy, 24, MTV and late-night talk shows, along with concentrated radio buys across twenty markets.

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