As the new school year gets under way this fall, and leaves turn vibrant hues that signal the onset of cooler weather, 7 UP bottlers will be busy delivering some "hot" news on what they feel is the "cool" new look of a soft drink brand familiar to American consumers. With the launch of new packaging graphics targeted for Oct. 1, 7 UP will take on a bolder, cleaner, more contemporary image, focused at, but not exclusive to, 12- to-24-year-old consumers.

In addition, the flavor profiles for Cherry 7 UP, Diet Cherry 7 UP and Diet 7 UP are being enhanced. The cherry brands will have a more pronounced cherry flavor, while diet 7 UP receives enhanced lemon and lime flavors, similar to the 1998 enhancements made to regular 7 UP. The diet versions will also incorporate a blend of Aspartame and Ace K sweeteners.

"We listened to 7 UP consumers and the message to create a contemporary look for the brand came through loud and clear," declared 7 UP President and Chief Operating Officer Mike McGrath. "This is the next logical step for us to take with 7 UP. It follows on the heels of several recent improvements, not the least of which is more local programs for our bottlers resulting in focused and improved brand support by our bottler partners. In addition, last year we introduced the 'Make 7 UP Yours' advertising campaign, which continues to hit home runs with audiences of all ages. The input and support from 7 UP bottlers remains a critical ingredient in the brand's successful repositioning and revitalization."

The 7 UP repositioning effort began when a proprietary 20-ounce "Splash" bottle was introduced in 1997, and was updated recently to accommodate a larger label with larger 7 UP graphics. In 1998, enhancements were made to the 7 UP flavor profile. Those changes were followed by the "Are U An UN" advertising campaign that began airing on television in early 1999, with the goal of differentiating 7 UP from other beverages. The "Make 7 UP Yours" campaign began airing in mid-November 1999 and continues through the end of 2000.

Research conducted among 1,500 consumers in 20 U.S. locales led 7 UP managers to approve the development of a more contemporary look for the 71-year-old brand. "7 UP packaging graphics had not significantly changed in a few decades and it was consumers and our bottlers who told us we needed to update the brand's look to complement the other improvements we have made," said McGrath. "However, consumers were emphatic about the retention of the bold number 7, the red dot and the vibrant green color as elements in any new design. We worked on the design for nearly a year-and-a-half, sought concurrence from our bottlers and conducted extensive testing to make certain any change we made would be embraced by consumers."

What resulted are new packaging graphics for the entire 7 UP brand portfolio, regular and diet, cherry and diet cherry. Dubbed "Race" for its sleek, clean look of fun, speed and motion, the new graphics will be rolled out by 7 UP bottlers through the fall months and profiled at the 7 UP Bottler Meeting in Hawaii, Oct. 1-3, 2000. Flavor profile changes will coincide with the rollout of new graphics. The Bottler Marketing Committee and the Bottler Association wholeheartedly endorsed the selected graphics.

"Consumers of all ages tell us the new graphics are 'striking' and will get more consumer recognition on the shelf and on display," explained McGrath. "Our bottlers are equally enthusiastic about 7 UP's new look. Like me, they strongly believe this change will keep the brand's momentum accelerating in the right direction as consumer measures for 7 UP continue to trend upward as measured by ACNielsen," concluded McGrath.

7 UP is a leading brand of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., which is the nation's leading non-cola soft drink company. Its brands account for approximately 15 percent of the U.S. soft drink volume. Dr Pepper/Seven Up is also the largest division of London-based confectionery and beverage company Cadbury Schweppes plc (NYSE: CSG). Other leading Dr Pepper/Seven Up brands include Dr Pepper, A&W Root Beer, Sunkist, Canada Dry, Hawaiian Punch, Schweppes, Squirt and Welch's.