Bill Winter, a former Seven-Up Company executive who led marketing as the "Uncola" campaign gained fame, has died at the age of 95 after a long illness.
Mr. Winter spent 59 years with the company, including a stint as CEO before he retired in 1982. He was VP of marketing in 1967 when 7UP rebranded itself as the "uncola" in a campaign that Ad Age ranked as the 61st best campaign of the 20th century.
One memorable ad starred actor/director/choreographer Geoffrey Holder who played a planter and compared small, dried cola nuts with the "uncola nuts" (lemons and limes). He was the first black actor to appear in a 7UP ad, reversing a Seven-Up Co. policy that had prohibited African-Americans from appearing in the marketer's ads, according to this 2007 Ad Age video interview with Charlie Martell, the J. Walter Thompson creative director who wrote the ad.
Mr. Winter was also a pioneer in cause-related marketing, helping make 7UP the first corporate sponsor of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon, according to a statement issued today by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Seven-Up merged with Dr Pepper in 1988.
"Bill Winter is someone I admired as a leader in the soft-drink business going back to the early days of my career when I carried 7UP on my delivery truck in Springfield, Mo.," Larry Young, president of Dr Pepper Snapple, said in the statement. "The 'Uncola' positioning and the use of an iconic spokesman in Geoffrey Holder were breakthroughs for not only the 7UP brand but also our industry, as was the brand's longstanding support of MDA."