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Alum Gives Pepsi A Caffeine Boost

Alum Gives Pepsi A Caffeine BoostJohn Bello's SoBe Teas is helping give Pepsi a new boost in the beverage market. New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [08.02.01] While it fueled the growth of international corporate powerhouses like Coke and Pepsi, soda has been losing its fizz with consumers. A rapidly growing selection of teas, bottled waters and sports drinks has been filling shelves and ringing cash registers around the country, giving soft drink makers a run for their money.

But thanks to John Bello's innovative SoBe Beverage Company, Pepsi has something new to cheer about -- increased sales.

According to London's Financial Times, Pepsi -- the world's second largest beverage company -- reported a 16 percent rise in earnings which the company attributes in part to newly acquired SoBe beverages.

A relative newcomer to the drink market, SoBe was created in 1995 by Bello, a 1968 Tufts graduate. Named after its home in South Beach, Miami, the company quickly carved out a dedicated following and a powerful reputation for its products, which include a unique line of herbal teas.

"Since it first appeared in stores with its line up of unusual flavors and a distinctive double-lizard logo, SoBe has grown into a Godzilla of the non-carbonated drinks business," reported the New York Times.

With brisk sales and a cutting edge marketing plan, SoBe took just a few years to become a leading beverage company. In the six years since SoBe's official launch, the value of Bello's company skyrocketed, topping $250 million in 2000.

"The company prides itself on being a 'virtual' brand company that does things differently," reported The Financial Times. "But the financial results would impress even the most buttoned down Wall Street banker."

Both Coke and Pepsi took notice. The latter paid over $370 million to add SoBe products and expertise to its folds.

What does Pepsi want to learn from the Tufts graduate and his company? How to be at the front of the industry's next big trend.

"We hope to beg, borrow and steal from SoBe," Pepsi's innovation director told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Our challenge is to figure out where the puck is going to be, not where it is today, and how to get there faster."

Bellow has a lot of experience setting trends.

Known as the "Lizard King" to friends, the Tufts grad has a reputation for success. His resume includes stints at General Foods and Pepsi, before becoming president of NFL Properties.

"Although it takes a committed team to build a soft-drink brand, SoBe owes much to the leadership of Bello," reported USA Today. "With his colorful approach to the business and his over-the-top style, he is SoBe's biggest asset."

But Bellow tries to keep SoBe's success in perspective.

"We don't make any claims that we're a wonderbrew," he told Fast Company Magazine. "We don't take ourselves too seriously."

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