Diet Coke smacks Pepsi …

Punch line: Coke #1, Diet Coke #2, Pepsi #3, Diet Pepsi ?

According to the WSJ …

U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday.

Occupying the top two rankings marks a historic win for Coca-Cola in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo, which has seen its market share slip in recent years and is trying to retool its marketing.

Pepsi-Cola commanded only a slight lead over Diet Coke in 2009, when each brand had slightly less than a 10% market share among carbonated soft drinks.

That year, regular Coke won the cola wars with a 17% market share.

But market-share data is expected to confirm Diet Coke pulled ahead in 2010.

PepsiCo made a big bet in 2010, when it didn’t market its flagship cola on the Super Bowl or in other TV spots.

Instead, it launched the Refresh Project, an online charitable-giving program that disbursed $20 million in donations “for refreshing ideas that change the world.”

Increasing the stakes, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo also spent billions of dollars last year to acquire their largest independent U.S. bottlers in a bid to bring drinks to stores more quickly.

WSJ, Diet Coke Wins Battle in Cola Wars, March 17, 2011

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