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    Christina: Genie in a (Coke) Bottle

    What's next, Jessica Simpson shilling for RC Cola?

    Just three days after Britney Spears gyrated for Pepsi during the Oscar telecast, Coca-Cola has announced that her teen-popster rival, Christina Aguilera, will have a Coke and a smile for its next batch of commercials.

    The Atlanta-based cola giant says Aguilera will begin appearing in the TV spots this May. She'll also take part in its summer 2001 promotion, where, in addition to a $1 million grand prize, Coke drinkers will get the chance to meet the pop princess and hang out with her during a video shoot. Other prizes will include a hoops game with Laker Kobe Bryant and a trip to the NFL Pro Bowl with ESPN's Chris Berman.

    But Coke insists it's not copying Pepsi. The company first signed Aguilera last year, though it was solely for a spot that aired in Latin America. Now, with the company adding some $300 million to its advertising budget, the 20-year-old singer will join a host of other big names to hawk the soda pop this summer, including Wallflowers singer Jakob Dylan.

    "The program in Latin America was real successful, so we're looking forward to working with her here," says Coca-Cola spokesman Scott Williamson.

    Just last month, Spears announced she was joining the Pepsi generation and the cola competitor would sponsor her upcoming world tour.

    Aguilera and Spears have followed strikingly similar career paths. Both started out on The Mickey Mouse Club and, after scoring successful debut albums, both were nominated for Best New Artist at the 2000 Grammy Awards (which Aguilera ended up winning).

    The cola connection would seem to make perfect sense. Just like Coke and Pepsi, fans of Britney and Christina are a fiercely loyal bunch, unwilling to admit to liking both, all while proudly berating the rival as a cheap, flavorless knockoff. (Of course, the cynics also add that both products are just different recipes for the same ultra-sugary guilty pleasure. And both help spawn mild forms of addiction in America's children.)

    But by taking advantage of the pop rivalry, Coke's deal with Christina promises to spark a marketing battle not seen since the great 'N Sync-and-McDonald's/Backstreet Boys-and-Burger King wars of 2000.

    Aguilera will have her work cut out for her: Spears made a memorable impression on Oscar viewers Sunday, as she wiggled and strutted (while sporting a Pepsi-logo navel ring) for her much-hyped commercial, which also featured former Senator Bob Dole.

    Meanwhile, Williamson says the new Aguilera ads have not yet been produced. We'd like to suggest a tagline:

    "What a Girl Wants: To Buy the World a Coke."

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