Britvic Soft Drinks, the UK's second largest soft drink producer after Cadbury Schweppes, is to launch a new brand next month offering drinkers a product which it claims is unique to the British market.
While milk and juice blends are becoming increasingly popular - both PepsiCo and Danone produce them under the brands A Touch of Milk and Danao respectively - they are still not widely available in the UK, and in any case are marketed clearly as fruit juice products.
Freekee Soda, on the other hand, is a carbonated drink targeted firmly at consumers of cola and other fizzy drinks. It is said to provide "a smoother drinking sensation" from a blend of 4 per cent skimmed milk with 7 per cent real fruit juice. It comes in two flavours Strange Strawberry and Odd Orange. Both are fortified with calcium and contain no added sugar.
The drink is packaged in eye-catching, metallic, uniquely shaped, embossed bottles. Both 330ml portable, resealable bottles and the 330ml fourpack will be available in the take-home trade.
Britvic said that the drink would be produced exclusively at its Widford production site, and that it would take on 40 new employees to help it meet the expected demand for the drink, which will be available from the end of February 2003.
Commenting on the launch, Britvic's factory manager Graham Dale said: "Freekee Soda will be produced exclusively at Widford. We have invested over £1.5m at the site to ensure that we can meet the proposed demand and have the capacity to ensure Britvic's strive for innovation continues to be a huge success. Widford also produces J20, Britvic's fruit juice brand, which has doubled in size over the past year and is also producing Robinsons Fruit Shoot to help meet rocketing demand."
Freekee Soda has been under development at Britvic for three years and will be launched into cash & carry and impulse outlets, supported with a £1.5 million spend on new manufacturing equipment and a £6.25 million launch.
From mid March, Britvic will work exclusively for eight weeks with selected launch partners in the leisure and catering market, which will be followed by a national roll out programme into the on-trade.
"Freekee Soda is a distinctly different type of soft drink," said Andrew Marsden, category director at Britvic. "It will tap into a whole new profit opportunity for retailers and licensees. Kids are by far the most important soft drink consumers and they love fizzies."
The brand has an ambient shelf-life of six months but, as with any soft drink, Britvic recommends that it should be sold from the chiller, positioned alongside carbonates - not least because figures show that 92 per cent of children, the core market for Freekee Soda, look in the chiller when choosing a soft drink.
These are busy days for Britvic, which is owned by Brittania Soft Drinks, a consortium of Six Continents (the leisure arm of what was once Bass), Allied Domecq and Whitbread. The company has also just embarked upon a major new £1.5 million advertising campaign for its Purdey's brand
Purdey's will be targeting 18 to 34-year-old urban professionals in major UK cities, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield, with heavyweight poster activity in busy areas including the London Underground, major commuter stations and city centres.
Purdey's is depicted in the campaign as the redeeming hero in a number of work and play situations. In each of the six new ads, a bottle of Purdey's features prominently with the 'Redemption' strapline.
"The 'Redemption' campaign positions Purdey's as the antidote to the hectic lives of urban professionals," said Britvic's adult brands controller, Katie Rawll. "These eye-catching ads will reinforce Purdey's Silver as an urban lifestyle brand."
"Awareness of Purdey's Silver among core target drinkers stands at over 50 per cent and consumption over the past year has risen by 35 per cent," said Andrew Marsden. "This latest Purdey's city campaign is part of our Right Choice soft drinks management programme, making our brands an integral part of people's lives."