No. 2 Soft Drink Seeks to Stop Sales Slide

DALLAS Dr Pepper/Seven Up is sticking with its 4-year-old “Make 7 Up yours” campaign with four new executions for 2004 as the company fights to keep 7 Up second behind the Coca-Cola Company’s Sprite in the lemon-lime category.

Sales of 7 Up are down 15 percent this year, company president and chief operating officer Mike McGrath told bottlers yesterday at a meeting in Dallas. The decline is due in large part to the decision of large PepsiCo bottlers to stop distributing 7 Up late last year. Independent bottlers are picking up the nearly one-third of volume sold by the Pepsi bottlers, who made the change to focus exclusively on their company’s new entrant, Sierra Mist. Those transfers have contributed to the brand’s decline in sales. McGrath also said America’s new concerns about obesity and new beverage products have affected sales.

Pepsi has been marketing Sierra Mist aggressively, spending $46 million on media in the first half of year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

To reinforce the image of 7 Up as “lively, contemporary, youthful and fun,” client chief advertising officer John Clarke said comedian Godfrey will return in spots to misinterpret marketing tactics.

In one spot via WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam in New York, Godfrey is seen on a bike with a paperboy. Coupons are one marketing tactic companies use, he says, but he thinks wrapping an actual 7 Up can inside a newspaper is a better idea. As he throws the paper, he hits a driver, who backs out of his driveway and crashes into another car. One toss throws a woman off her bike, and another leads to a house fire.

A second spot shows Godfrey driving through a neighborhood with a truck that says, “Slam Dunk and win $1,000,000.” An eager player jumps over a fence and runs full force into the truck, only to hit it face-first, just as Godfrey comes to a stop. Seeing the truck idling, a man runs out of his house and attempts a dunk. By the time he gets there, however, Godfrey has begun driving away, and the man ends up crashing into a lemonade stand.

Robot-like 7 Up vending machines go wild on a beach in “Vendors,” as Godfrey explains another new marketing tactic—bringing the product to the consumer faster. The robots are seen tossing cans to a man who uses a surfboard to protect himself; another surfer is less fortunate and gets pelted. In another shot, a machine is seen running over a dozen bikes.

The last spot shows a taxi driver awaiting a 7 Up ad to be put atop his cab. When Godfrey asks for the ad, however, a giant 7 Up can drops and crushes the driver.

Each spot ends with a super of a 7 Up bottle and the “Make 7 Up yours” tag. The ads will primarily air during programming that appeals to 7 Up’s key demographic, 12-24 year olds. Dr Pepper/Seven Up spent $33 million on media for 7 Up last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The company’s Sunkist brand, which spent $6 million on media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, will continue to promote teen self-expression with its tag of “Experience the charge.” The positioning remains the same despite the shift in May from Interpublic Group’s Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago to BrandBuzz, the multi-disciplinary unit of Y&R. TV work breaks next summer that will play off a promotion in which winning teens will get the chance to work with well-known musicians and producers, a client representative said.

Canada Dry is the only beverage from the Plano, Texas-based company to receive a new positioning. The brand, which is handled by Latitude in Dallas and spent $1 million in media last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, will break print and radio ads next year in Northeast markets with the tag, “Just north of every day.” The ginger ale has been using “Life’s simple pleasure” as a tag.