Cliff Freeman Brings Back Wendy The Snapple Lady

One of the 1990s’ most memorable, if wacky, pitchpersons is back. Wendy the Snapple Lady—actually, her voice—will return to the beverage company’s ads in 2005.

Cliff Freeman and Partners’ first work for Snapple will break in January, and it ditches the “personified bottles” approach used by Deutsch for the past three years, sources said. Wendy returns as a voiceover.

New York’s Cliff Freeman, now part-owned by MDC Partners, is going back to the “real people” approach developed in 1993 by then Snapple agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, sources said.

The new campaign will focus on consumers being interviewed about their favorite flavors and about each other, sources said.

In one spot, a car mechanic says he likes the new “Diet Plum-a-Granate” flavor because it’s tingly in his mouth. The ad then cuts to a customer, who says she likes the mechanic because he’s honest. After wrecking her car, he tells her which junkyard it’s in.

Another spot shows a school principal who likes Diet Raspberry Tea. Cut to a student who says she likes the principal because he’s cute.

A third ad shows a kid who loves the “Go Bananas” flavor. His dentist in turn compliments the boy’s teeth.

The multiple compliments—person to Snapple, person to person—being doled out in the feel-good spots lead to the tagline: “Return the favor.” The ads were shot with multiple endings to keep the campaign fresh, sources said.

Other new flavors being introduced are Diet Lemonade Iced Tea and “Outredgous” blood red orange. Sources said Snapple is testing a low-sugar line of juices called “All Light.”

Cliff Freeman won the estimated $15 million business from Interpublic Group’s Deutsch in New York in May without a review thanks to a previous relationship with parent Cadbury Schweppes’ chief marketing officer, Randy Gier, sources said.

Agency CEO Cliff Freeman referred calls to the client. A Snapple rep declined comment.

The work was shown at a bottlers’ meeting on Oct. 14 in New York. Some bottlers, who were concerned about the direction of the ads when Gier joined and quickly switched agencies, said the work is right on target.

“Using Wendy is smart,” said one bottler. “She’s a familiar voice. You immediately know who it is. … The ads are a riot. Randy Gier really seems to get it.”

The bottler was appreciative of the change, saying the personified bottles work from Deutsch was expected to be “our Budweiser frogs. They weren’t. The new ads say Snapple in such a quirky way.”

Deutsch continues to handle PR.

Snapple competes against sports drinks, bottled waters, fruit juices and ice teas. It ranks fifth in U.S. sales (behind Gatorade, Aquafina, Dasani and Lipton) with $488 million in 2003, according to Beverage Marketing Corp., down from $575 million in 2002.