SIBLING SOFT DRINK BRANDS COME TO 7 UP'S RESCUE

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In an effort to boost sagging sales of its flagship 7 UP brand, Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper/Seven Up division will double ad spending for its key secondary soft drinks.

Dr Pepper/Seven Up will spend $16 million to $18 million next year on new ad campaigns for A&W Root Beer, Sunkist and Squirt.

That's in addition to an estimated $40 million being spent on new advertising for 7 UP and a separate campaign for Schweppes mixers.

AN ENSEMBLE CAST

Dr Pepper/Seven Up's strategy is to promote its secondary brands with the hope that spotlighting the ensemble cast will eventually prop up its fading star, 7 UP.

The marketer hopes increased consumer interest in these smaller, well-performing flavors will make it more compelling for retailers to give them, and 7 UP, a more prominent slot in supermarket displays and convenience store coolers.

The 7 UP brand is currently being upstaged by well-funded efforts from Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi-Cola Co. for shelf space.

"The idea is to take the power of these strong trademarks rather than be single-brand dependent," said John Clarke, chief advertising officer for Dr Pepper/Seven Up.

`BEYOND DISAPPOINTING'

This all comes as 7 UP posted results that company Chairman-CEO Todd Stitzer called "beyond disappointing." Mr. Stitzer told a somber crowd at 7 UP's annual bottlers meeting last week that 7 UP

Super spot: 7 UP's new ads get a big kickoff on January's Super Bowl.

7 UP from Page 1

volume declined by 2.3% from January through July this year, despite a corporate revitalization program that included reformulating the lemon-lime soda.

Bottlers are slated to vote in November on how much they will kick in for 7 UP marketing next year. Last year, they contributed 25% to overall costs.

Among flavors, A&W root beer gets the biggest backing next year with an amusing campaign targeted at men in their 20s from new agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago.

BEING THICK-HEADED

With three 30-second spots to break next summer themed "It's good to be thick headed," one spot shows a job applicant mispronouncing the interviewer's name, Mr. Dumass. Another shows a husband asking his wife the provenance of the lipstick stain on his shirt, and whether she'd like to see the video of his bachelor party.

Meanwhile, FCB, via a sister True North Communications shop, Hispanic agency Siboney USA, Miami, has produced the first national TV spot for grapefruit-flavored Squirt, which will air on the Univision network.

The marketer is also trying to give its Sunkist orange flavor a more urban appeal, and is backing it with a new 30-second spot from FCB showing teens drawn to a can of Sunkist like flies. The new tagline: "One nation under the sun."

The Schweppes ads, debuting in early December, are the first work from the brand's new global agency, Y&R Advertising, London.

With the tagline "Clean, crisp, with a little more taste," they feature the voice of "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer as a seductive cheetah named Clive.

UNCOLA POSITIONING REVIVED

As for 7 UP, the marketer is once again repositioning the beverage as the "uncola" via a new campaign targeted to 12-to-24-year-olds from longtime agency Y&R Advertising, New York. It will debut during the Jan. 31 Super Bowl broadcast on Fox.

In addition to airing ads in the game, during post-game coverage and in prime-time Fox programming that night, a spot will also be telecast on MTV's alternative halftime show.

Themed "Are U an UN," the campaign takes a page from strong-performing rival Coca-Cola brand Sprite by positioning 7 UP as a product attractive to savvy youngsters, in this case "Uns," who can't be fooled by marketing messages from out-of-touch consumer conglomerates.

TEASER ADS COME FIRST

The campaign shows trendy teens, who don't smile much, harassed by a group called the Anti-Refreshment Syndicate that doesn't want them drinking 7 UP. A teaser campaign with three 15-second spots that does not overtly mention the product breaks in early January.

One shows a high school girl screaming when she opens her locker to find a disembodied face watching her. Another shows two teens screaming as the face peers up from a supermarket scanner.

Bottlers gave the new 7 UP work cautious praise. "They most definitely will hit the target of that age group," said one bottler. "They're not doing an old-timers' campaign."

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