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3/31/99 - Getting It Up

7Up is currently attempting a 90's reincarnation of their "Uncola" theme. Their efforts seem to have been provoked by the youth appeal of the other Uns--Mountain Dew and Sprite. The fact that these brands were originally created in reaction to 7Up has got to be a downer.

The original Uncola campaign was launched with a psychedelic animated spot in the late 60's, a time when everyone was "un" something. The 70's follow up starred actor Geoffrey Holder as the charismatic Uncola man.

In the 80's, they dropped the "Uncola" tag and their upstart image with the middle-of- the-road musical "Feels So Good Coming Down" campaign. In it, a rain of refreshment fell down on parched people when they sipped the soda. (Years earlier, Fresca had a similar campaign with a product-triggered blizzard.)

Inspired by the success of the California Raisins in the mid-80's, 7Up produced a computer animated campaign that gave their logo's red spot a pair of arms, legs and a "cool" pair of shades (the Mr. Potatohead school of branding).

The 90's have been kind of quiet for 7Up, until now. Not that the awkward campaign they launched on Super Bowl XXXIII poses any challenge to their hipper rivals.

Returning to the "antiestablishment" position they abandoned long ago, the 90's "Uns" are kids borrowed from Mountain Dew commercials who are stalked by the elderly, black-suited "cola establishment." The brand that used to identify itself as "cool and clean with no caffeine" now wants to be thought of as a form of rebellion akin to body piercing.

It's interesting to note that in the course of two decades, 7Up's advertising has evolved from a black man (Holder) in a white suit to a bunch of white guys in black suits. Is this cola mafia a reference to the film Men In Black? Or Reservoir Dogs (which Pepsi One has coincidentally done a closer rip of in the latest installment of their senseless campaign)? Come to think of it, why aren't they wearing brown, cola-colored suits?

7Up's new spots probably went over well when they were previewed at the bottler's convention. But if they wanted to be edgy, they should have looked to the movie Seven for inspiration. The name's a perfect fit. It's surprising they didn't do a tie-in when it was released. (Of course, a promotion with 7-11 stores is another opportunity they've overlooked.)

Like the movie, the Seven campaign could feature a young white cop and an older black cop (automatically broadening the demographic appeal). In each spot they're investigating some bizarre form of death by 7Up. One victim has been force fed 7Up until they burst. Another is found pickled in a gigantic bottle of the stuff. Someone else is buried under a mountain of cans (they could have a contest where you're supposed to guess the number of cans in the pile).

After going over the gruesome details of the crime scene, the young white cop turns to his partner and says, "Looks like his number was up." The black cop stoically replies, "Yeah, 7Up." Cut to a product shot and super the tagline--Do a number on thirst.

UNconventional? Sure. But that's a lot better than being UNinteresting.