Pop Art

How 7 UP’s new ad campaign is trying to put the fizz back in the Uncola.

MEN IN BLACK SUITS and dark sunglasses skulk through the aisles of a convenience store searching for their quarry: teenagers who defy convention by buying a certain brand of lemon-lime soft drink that turns them into “Uns.” Meanwhile, from their control room in a satellite circling Earth, the agents’ bosses—sinister leaders of the “Anti-Refreshment Syndicate”—zero in on two Uns in the convenience store attempting to buy the Uncola—7 UP, of course—and instruct the agents to stop them. Will the syndicate succeed in its evil scheme? Or will the independent young Uns pop the top on a 7 UP and save the world from a cola conspiracy? If the story line gets too intense, just keep repeating, “It’s only a commercial.”

Actually, it’s only one commercial among many that the millions of fans watching this month’s Super Bowl will see during the game’s expensive and highly hyped commercial breaks. But for Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., those 30 seconds could make a difference for years: The satellite spot and a commercial with a football story line (in which a syndicate-controlled coach tries to push a sports drink on his players) will kick off a new three- to five-year ad campaign designed to give the soft drink a fresher, younger image and bolster a brand that has been losing ground to the Cola-Cola Company’s Sprite. Once the nation’s third top-selling soft drink, 7 UP has slipped to eighth place, with a market share of only 2.3 percent of total soft drink sales, according to Beverage Digest. That’s less than half of

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