Plus Sizes

For a brand to reach its seventies, it must have a loyal following and an established identity, though the latter can have its positive and negative connotations. Such seems to be the case with 7Up (Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc., Plano, Texas), which hit 75 this year and has shown signs of slowing of late.

Competition, in the forms of Sprite (Coca-Cola, Atlanta) and Sierra Mist (PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y.), has taken its toll, as partially evidenced by its forthcoming marketing slogan: “The only way to go is up.” That is a fairly apt description, considering case sales have dropped from 370.5 million in 1985 to 199.2 million in 2003, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Of course, that does not mean 7Up developers are not trying. Their newest offering, 7Up Plus, hopes to create an entirely new category of beverages. The products, available in a berry hue and mixed-berry flavors, are made with real fruit juice, calcium and vitamin C, while also keeping with the 7Up uncola mantra of caffeine-free.

Giving Up the Bottle

Coca-Cola (Atlanta) reportedly is testing an aluminum bottle can in select U.S. markets. The product has the appearance of a can but uses a reclosable screw-top cap, rather than a ring-pull opening. Similar containers have proven successful in Japan, both for aesthetic attributes and the increased ability to keep out sunlight and oxygen. Presumably, the screw-top benefits those consuming the product throughout the day or who enjoy the beverage while driving.

Most certainly not for driving consumption, a beer in an aluminum bottle has been launched across the U.S., the first of its kind stateside, boasts Iron City Lager (Pittsburgh Brewing, Hermitage, Pa.). However, Heineken (White Plains, N.Y.) had a limited release of its beer in such a container, and Big Sky Brewing (Missoula, Mont.) used the packaging in a wider launch. Regardless, manufacturers continue to make inroads with the aluminum container.

A Different Purrsuasion

The launch of any new product can be a daunting challenge; however, some companies are fortunate enough to be able to draw upon past experience to guide them through the rough spots. Nonetheless, there is still the difficulty in attracting consumers to a new product. It helps if a company has an icon of the past to draw upon.

Such is the case with Del Monte Foods' (San Francisco) Morris the Cat, the 36-year-old 9Lives hawker who is returning to television airwaves after a 12-year absence. The return of the tenacious tubby coincides with an all-new 9Lives menu of 32 wet and three dry varieties, in such tempting flavors as roasted chicken and smoked salmon, beef tenderloin and roasted turkey. The return of the finicky feline will coincide with a national ad campaign and 9Lives varieties designed to promote feline fitness.

Hopefully, John Erwin is available to return as the voice of Morris.

Can't Win for Losing

Kellogg's (Battle Creek, Mich.) has made concerted efforts to provide more-healthful products in a pair of European countries, but the company has met with quite the challenge in each case.

In the U.K., Kellogg's new version of Frosties cereal has a third less sugar, provides 7.5g of sugar per 30g serving, and is fortified with six B-vitamins, including folic acid, plus iron and calcium. However, the product had not even reached the market before being assailed by British press. At issue is the product's salt content, which has increased 20% above government guidelines (from 0.62g to 0.75g). The government, as of press time, had not issued a statement.

Such has not been the case for Kellogg's attempt at launching several vitamin-enriched products in Denmark. There, health officials have banned the new products, saying the items could be harmful if eaten regularly, potentially damaging children's livers and kidneys, as well as the fetuses of pregnant women. Kellogg's has promised to work with Danish authorities to devise a solution.