Schweppes poised to show sparkling form

Cadbury Schweppes is turning the spotlight on the Schweppes range as part of its strategy of building star brands across the globe. But unlike its international campaigns for Dr Pepper and Crush, which focus on a single product, the challenge with Schweppes will be to promote a range of products with different positionings in different markets.

In Spain, Schweppes Tonic Water is a popular soft drink in its own right. In Germany, Bitter Lemon is the most popular product in the Schweppes range, while in the UK the brand is associated with spirit mixers.

To make the most of the brand’s worldwide ad budget, recently increased to $30m (19m) from $12m (7.5m), the company needs to overcome this fragmented positioning, and is about to embark on a global advertising campaign promoting the Schweppes name. The campaign will aid the move to promote Schweppes as a product in its own right, rather than being a mixer for spirits, which is a declining market.

Cadbury Schweppes has appointed Young & Rubicam to the centralised global account after holding pitches with the brand’s two other roster agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi and Foote Cone & Belding (MW August 6). The new campaign will be tested in seven countries and then introduced to others around the world.

The worldwide campaign follows the European relaunch of Schweppes in 1997. This coincided with the launch of a new carbonated spring water juice product, called Schweppes Sparkling and targeted at 18 to 30-year-olds, and the relaunch of the mixer range. New packaging and a new logo have also been rolled out across Schweppes’ products in Europe.

The relaunch was supported in the UK by a 3m TV campaign created by Saatchi and showed two workers trying to smuggle diamonds out of a diamond mine ending with the strapline “Think Schweppes”.

A further ad produced at a cost of 1m by Saatchi was launched in April this year and was to run across Europe. One City analyst says: “They have had quite a successful experience with the relaunch in the UK.

“They have had to concentrate the positioning of the drink away from being a mixer to more of a mainstream drink because the spirit category is in long-term decline.”

This relaunch has helped drive the brand’s sales, as Cadbury Schweppes half-year results demonstrated last week.

The company said the Schweppes brand had helped to push volume sales up by ten per cent in Europe and the UK. Pre-tax profits rose to 254m compared with 236m in the first half of last year.

Cadbury Schweppes is considered to be one of the few soft drinks companies with genuine global potential. Along with Pepsico and Coca-Cola Company, Schweppes is one of the world’s top three players in the soft drinks market – between them they control about four-fifths of the market, according to researchers Leatherhead Food RA. But Schweppes has yet to make the most of this international potential, especially when it comes to sorting out the Schweppes range.

Richard Hall, chairman of marketing consultancy Zenith International says: “The point about Schweppes is the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It can pack a powerful punch with a unified strategy and budget, but would be dissipated by too much local variation.”

Unlike Coca-Cola and Pepsi, which tend to use global marketing to promote one brand and one product, campaigns for Schweppes will not be so simple.

However, Chris Wood, a director of brand development consultancy CLK which worked with Cadbury Schweppes to develop the brand strategy, says: “You can have a global brand with lots of different brands underneath.

“For example, Shell and Cadbury around the world have lots of different products under one brand name.”

According to Wood the challenge is to forge a common title, common packaging and a common platform of communication for the brands.

Zenith’s Hall says: “Schweppes had been in the doldrums as a brand. The company first needed to focus on giving the Schweppes brand a future as great as its history. Then it had to devote the management and financial resources to making it happen. It is a brand that has now picked up again.”

One factor Schweppes can rely on in a bid to become a world player is its heritage in the more than 100 markets where it is sold. But it will have to develop the brand’s position from mixer into a soft drinks range in its own right.

Suzanne Sharpe, account managing director, Y&R Europe, says: “We have developed a global campaign idea flexible enough to accommodate different Schweppes products.”

The ability of Schweppes to realise its potential as a global soft drinks marketer will be measured in part by the success of the imminent international campaign.

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