PepsiCo announced that it is to launch a vanilla version of its flagship brand as it unveiled its plans for its annual summer battle with rival Coca-Cola.

It had been widely speculated that Pepsi would look to emulate the success of Vanilla Coke, which launched last year and has sold 90m cases, and yesterday the Purchase, NY, food and beverage company confirmed it will introduce Pepsi Vanilla late this summer. No specific launch date was announced.

PepsiCo also unveiled a number of other product promotions it hopes will drive soft drink sales this summer, including giving consumers the chance to win US$1 billion. 

The promotion, called "Pepsi Play for a Billion," will see 1,000 contestants competing for US$1m. That winner will then have another 1-in-1,000 shot at $1 billion live on AOL Time Warner Inc.'s (AOL) The WB Network.

Pepsi wouldn't reveal the details of the two-hour game show, but said it would be marked by building suspense as the pool of contestants got weeded down to the final winner.

The show will be promoted with TV advertising and through AOL Time Warner's television, publishing and online mediums.