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By The Drum | Administrator

May 1, 2003 | 5 min read

There haven’t been many marketing campaigns as memorable as Tango’s early brand builders. You know, the ones with the large orange chap who slapped people about a bit before hitting us with the strapline, “You know when you’ve been Tango’d.”

Since those halcyon days Tango’s been slapped about a bit itself, primarily by Fanta, in the fast-moving soft drinks marketplace. It’s Andrew Marsden’s job to make sure that the brand gets some retaliatory strikes in and fights back to a market-leading position. It’ll be a tough job, but Marsden, Britvic’s category director since 2000, is most definitely ready to rumble.

“We’re in the process of launching a new campaign for the brand, which marks the most significant activity it’s seen for the last ten years,” revealed the former MD of Vileda and marketing director of HP Foods.

“It’s no secret that Tango has been affected since it was attacked by Fanta a couple of years ago. We’ve been very public about that and were the first to admit that the first half of last year, in particular, was a difficult time for the brand. However, in the latter half of the year we turned that around and recorded significant growth. We’re confident that, with the new activity, the new packaging we’re introducing and a new flavour, we can keep on growing the brand from here.”

It’s a considerable task, for sure, but in the grand scale of Marsden’s remit it’s just one challenge for the man who controls some of the most popular drinks brands in the UK. Marsden, who was Britvic marketing director for three years, is responsible for making sure that a portfolio of brands that includes Pepsi, 7Up, R White’s, Purdey’s, Idris and Robinson’s makes it into the minds, the shopping trolleys and, most importantly of all, the stomachs of the British public. So far he seems to be handling the bowel-quakingly daunting job with aplomb.

“We’re in a strong position at the moment. Essentially, we’re the second biggest producer of soft drinks, behind Coca-Cola, but we have a far broader portfolio of brands, which gives us a good advantage.” Stating that Britvic is currently in a “strong position” is far from sanitised PR preening – if anything it’s an understatement.

In Marsden’s words, the firm now controls “about a quarter of a soft drinks market which is worth around £7 billion.” With a lucrative slice of the market like that, you’d expect Marsden’s glass to be way over half-full, almost overflowing to the point of complacency perhaps. However, nothing could be further from the truth and he remains thirsty to secure Britvic’s position within the market.

“We have a sector that has shown continuous growth for the last ten years and is still growing. That gives us a huge group to market to, but has also created a dynamic and incredibly aggressive marketplace that is supported by huge amounts of investment. To keep on top of that we can’t be complacent, we have to keep up to speed and ensure that we give the consumers exactly what they want. It’s a battle, but it’s also the most fascinating sector to work within.”

In their quest for the coveted grail of “exactly what the consumers want” Britvic is currently in the process of launching Freekee Soda, a new concept in soft drinks that supposedly delivers a first-class “smooth yet fizzy” package straight to the taste buds. The firm clearly has high hopes for the product and is backing the launch with a tasty marketing push worth in excess of £6m.

“It’s a unique product that we’ve developed with new technology over the past couple of years to create a ‘textured’ drink aimed at younger teenagers. We’re supporting it with a TV campaign (created by incumbent Tango agency CHI), internet activity, sponsorship, PR and an extensive programme of sampling. This (the sampling) is something that we think will be the best instrument for demonstrating just how different Freekee is. So far we’ve seen a very encouraging conversion rate because once people try it they’re completely intrigued.”

Time will tell if it’s as intriguing as seeing a bald, orange fella slapping the public, but with the financial might of Britvic behind it, not to mention Marsden’s expertise, you can bet that Freekee will certainly make an impact.

Marsden (pictured) will be addressing The Marketing Society’s Northern Forum on 19 June in Leeds. Contact Natalia Campillos on 020 8879 3464 for more details.

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