Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi-Cola Co. have been responsible for some of the more memorable beverage advertising of the 20th century, but other soft-drink marketers also have come up with inventive sales pitches.
Among the secondary cola brands, Royal Crown cola has endured the longest. Introduced in the late 1930s by Nehi Corp., Columbus, Ga., Royal Crown was a distant third behind Coca-Cola and Pepsi, despite the best efforts of Benton & Bowles, its first major advertising agency. The account was at D'Arcy Advertising for 11 years beginning in 1958, during which time Nehi revolutionized the cola category by introducing the world's first zero-calorie diet soft drink, Diet-Rite cola. Sweetened with saccharine instead of sugar, Diet-Rite was initially successful, but Nehi was unable to maintain leadership after Coca-Cola and Pepsi entered the category.
In 1969 Nehi moved its soft-drinks account to Wells, Rich, Greene, which shortened the Royal Crown name to RC and developed aggressive advertising for both RC and Diet-Rite. Despite substantial spending and ad campaigns mounted by numerous agencies, neither brand has yet been able to seriously challenge the market leaders. As of 2002, Royal Crown and Diet-Rite were owned by Triarc Co., a holding company whose beverage group also included Snapple. Deutsch Inc. was the ad agency of record for the brands.
Colas were not the only beverages to build a mass market in the nonalcoholic drink field. Charles E. Hires, a Pennsylvania drugstore owner, concocted a beverage marketed as a temperance drink. Ad copy for Mr. Hire's root beer read, "Drink it and the world drinks with you," while another ad touted use of the tonic to "purify the blood and make rosy cheeks."
Another soft-drink entrepreneur, Charles Alderton, a Waco, Texas, pharmacist, made a splash in 1885 with Dr Pepper, which was introduced to a wider audience in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair. A diet version came on the market in 1962; it was reformulated in 1991.
For its first 40 years, Dr Pepper's slogans included "Drink a bit to eat at 10, 2 and 4," during the 1920s and 1930s; "The friendly Pepper upper," in the '50s; and "The most original soft drink ever," in the '70s. But in 1977 Dr Pepper hit advertising gold with Young & Rubicam, which coined the slogan, "Be a Pepper."
An investment group that owned Dr Pepper acquired the Seven-Up Co. from Philip Morris Cos. in 1986. Between 1987 and 1992, Dr Pepper's household penetration grew 50%, which the marketer attributed to positioning it not as the overall No. 3 soft drink (behind Coke and Pepsi) but as the No. 1 noncola beverage. Slogans subsequently changed a few more times, with "Just what the doctor ordered" and a revival of "Be a Pepper" among the better remembered. "Dr Pepper makes the world taste better" appeared in 2001.
Arrival of the "Uncola"
7UP was a latecomer to the noncola category. In 1929, St. Louis businessman C.L. Grigg introduced Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. Following a name change to 7UP, the brand eventually became the world's No. 3 soft drink. Part of the attraction may have been its inventive positioning by agency Philip Klein Inc. as a hangover remedy. The account moved to J. Walter Thompson Co., Chicago, in the late 1940s and remained at JWT for decades.
In 1967 JWT and Seven-Up Co. kicked off the "Uncola" campaign. It resonated with younger consumers looking for anything anti-establishment. The imagery ranged from upside-down Coke glasses to Busby Berkley-style visual extravaganzas; later, JWT added the idea of the "uncola nut," which, as pitchman Geoffrey Holder explained in his deep voice, made the beverage so refreshing. Diet 7UP was introduced in 1970.
By 1995, when Cadbury Schweppes purchased Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Co., the soft drink was losing market share to rival Coca-Cola's Sprite. Cadbury Schweppes moved the 7UP account to Y&R and experimented with reformulating the drink's recipe. But ad efforts failed to win an increased share of tastebuds. In 1999, Y&R introduced a campaign built around the tagline "Make 7UP yours," targeting 12-to-24-year-olds.
Marketers of fruity beverages also found ways to whet young consumers' thirsts for their products. In 1927, Nebraska-based Perkins Product Co. set out to lower production and shipping costs of its Fruit Smack soft-drink syrup by converting it into a powder; it first changed the name to Kool-Ade, then later restyled the brand as Kool-Aid. The marketer's only ad agency during its early years was Mason Warner Co., Chicago. In 1954, a year after General Foods Corp. acquired Kool-Aid, the account moved to Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, which developed the enduring symbol of the Kool-Aid pitcher.
In a series of TV spots beginning in 1975 from Grey Advertising, New York, the now walking, talking pitcher crashed through obstacles to reach children who yelled, "Hey, Kool-Aid!" In 1994, Ogilvy & Mather won the Kool-Aid account and made the pitcherman character more athletic, showing him interacting with children in the spots.
Another animated spokescharacter was Hawaiian Punch's "Punchy" character, who asked, "How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?" In 1990 NW Ayer brought back Punchy as a spokesman, making him more "hip" and having him interact with children. In 1999, Procter & Gamble Co. sold the Hawaiian Punch brand to Cadbury Schweppes.
Tang, an orange-flavored powder drink from General Foods, was introduced in 1965 after 10 years in development. NASA space and Moon missions packed the mix, which initially contained no real juice, and the marketer, through agency Y&R, began to position Tang as the beverage choice of astronauts.
Sales of carbonated sodas flattened out in the 1990s, and beverage marketers began to pin their hopes on sports drinks. In the early years of the decade, isotonic beverages?electrolyte replacement drinks for athletes?became all the rage, but the University of Florida's Gators football team had introduced the world to Gatorade in the mid-1960s. Twenty years later, Quaker Oats Co.'s purchase of Gatorade put the product segment on the map. In 1991, Quaker signed basketball superstar Michael Jordan as Gatorade's worldwide spokesman; Gatorade also became a sponsor of the first all-pro U.S. Olympic basketball team, led by Mr. Jordan. Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, Chicago, Gatorade's ad agency, created the "Be Like Mike" campaign.
FCB inherited the prized Gatorade account when its parent, True North Communications, acquired Bayer Bess in 1996; after PepsiCo's acquisition of Quaker Oats, the soft-drink giant shifted $350 million in billings, including Gatorade, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' FCB to Omnicom Group.
"New Age" beverages
In 1972, a Long Island health-food store started selling a fizzy apple juice that later was branded Snapple. In addition to fruit flavors, brewed iced teas were added to the product line, which was distributed via delis and small stores. Wendy Kaufman, who worked in Snapple's order department, caught the attention of Snapple's ad agency, Kirshenbaum & Bond. The 5-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Ms. Kaufman began appearing in commercials reading letters and fulfilling fans' fantasies, and became an overnight hit. When Quaker purchased Snapple in 1994, Kirshenbaum unsuccessfully tried to position Snapple against Coke and Pepsi in an attempt to make the product more mainstream. The account subsequently moved to FCB, which undertook a $40 million sampling effort under the slogan, "Spread the good taste all over the place." Again, the effort failed.
In 1997, Triarc bought Snapple from Quaker for the bargain price of $300 million and parted ways with FCB. Deutsch, New York, won the account and created a new campaign that featured the return of Ms. Kaufman. By late 2000, Snapple had changed hands again; Cadbury Schweppes acquired the brand for $1.45 million.
In 2003, Snapple Beverage Corp. inked a $100 million-plus deal to become the official beverage of the city of New York. Although mired in lawsuit by Gotham?s Comptroller, the deal, if approved, would give the Cadbury Schweppes' unit exclusive rights to sell its fruit juices in New York city buildings and schools.
Snapple was not the only brand trying to take advantage of the New Age segment. Coca-Cola introduced Fruitopia in early 1994 with a $30 million ad campaign and slogans such as "Fruitopia: for the mind, body and planet." Pepsi also introduced a beverage, but it failed quickly. Marketing experts criticized the sales pitches as being too trendy and noted that the product category was aimed at fickle younger consumers, whose tastes change constantly.