Dr Pepper/Seven Up ads get new 'flavor'

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Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper/Seven Up division will lavish more attention on its secondary soft-drink brands next year, while it continues to search for a way to stem the relentless decline of its flagship 7 UP.

The company plans to boost media spending by 45% on brands such as Sunkist orange soda, Canada Dry ginger ale and A&W root beer.

Those brands have posted impressive gains in 1999, thanks in part to their first appearance on network TV in several years, said John Clarke, chief advertising officer for Dr Pepper/Seven Up. He declined to provide spending figures for 2000.

"We feel we are where we need to be now," he said of the so-called "flavor brands."

Part of the effort will include two new 30-second commercials from FCB Worldwide, Chicago, that will air on network TV at different times throughout next year. One is for Canada Dry and the other for Sunkist. The commercials will run alongside existing spots that were launched earlier this year.

Both new commercials hop on the trend of using animals in food and beverage ads. The Canada Dry spot introduces a new theme line, "You'll fall in love with Canada Dry," that replaces "Out and out refreshment." The spot, aimed at 18-to-49-year-olds, shows a ginger ale-toting penguin falling in love with a polar bear.

Canada Dry ginger ale sales rose 9.2% through mid-June this year, according to Beverage Digest. The brand was backed by $3 million in media spending through the first six months of '99, according to Competitive Media Reporting, including its first network TV spending since 1995. The company spent $2.1 million for all of 1998 on the brand.

Sunkist sales have exploded this year, up 27.9% through mid-June, according to Beverage Digest. By comparison, Coca-Cola Co.'s rival Minute Maid grew 9.6% and Pepsi-Cola Co.'s orange Slice slipped 9.5%. Sunkist was backed with $2.7 million in media spending in the first half of the year, according to CMR.

The brands are a bright spot for Dr Pepper/Seven Up, which told its bottlers at their annual meeting last week in Dallas that sales for the 7 UP brand have dipped 3.9% this year.

Last week, company officials unveiled 7 UP's third ad campaign in two years. The work from longtime agency Y&R Advertising, New York, carries a new theme, "Make 7 UP yours," and features comedian Orlando Jones as a misguided though enthusiastic 7 UP marketer.

The company plans to boost spending for 7 UP by 20% next year. The brand was backed by $29.4 million through the first six months of 1999, and $27 million for all of '98, according to CMR.

"We are not going to give up," declared Mike McGrath, president-chief operating officer of Cadbury/7 UP, the Dr Pepper/Seven Up unit in charge of 7 UP. "We are going to make the largest investment in the brand ever."

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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