They must think we’re un-stupid

7-Up (*the uncola) has reformulated the soft drink and unleashed a new ad campaign. This move comes after 7-Up apparently figured out that “that other guy who kinda looks like Orlando” was never going to replace Orlando Jones and that the phrase “Up Yours” is not the best way to sell a consumable product.

The gist of this new formulation is that 7-Up is “100% natural”. The ad campaign contains lots of shots of oranges, limes, lemons, and any other citrus fruit/generic FL citrus grove shot they can squeeze in The citrus-infused-Flash-enabled nightmare that is the 7-Up Website has the TV spots you can watch along with the following pitch:

Now you have even more of a reason to enjoy the crisp, clean, refreshing lemon-lime taste of 7UP, because 7UP is now 100% natural. 7UP has been stripped of artificial ingredients and preservatives. What’s left is the clean, crisp taste of 7UP – but even better because it’s 100% natural. As always, 7UP has no caffeine. Just five simple, 100% natural ingredients. Peel one open today and try for yourself. (emphasis added)

Now consider this:
–On the back of the can, there is the disclaimer: CONTAINS NO JUICE.
–This is the complete ingredients list: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Potassium Citrate.

Ponder this paradox while I run down to the health food store and pick up some High Fructose Corn Syrup.

This move by 7-Up sums up everything that’s wrong with marketing today. The idea was contrived in some boardroom-retreat-brainstorming-committee-R&D-group-hug. They convinced themselves that it was a good idea and rolled the ads out. It shows a total disconnect from reality to spend millions of dollars to convince people of something that makes absolutely no common sense. Just because you say something in a “rebranding” ad DOES NOT make it real.

It’s always been important…but even more important now that you have an HONEST conversation with your market if you’re going to be successful with marketing. People can detect BS…and blatant BS like this is the EXACT reason traditional advertising is no longer as effective as it was. People are tired of it and they tune it out.

This 7UP campaign reminds me of when KFC tried to convince us back in 2003 that Fried Chicken was health food. That flopped and I predict this will too.

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7UP-DATE (Ha!) – Jon asks in the comments if the info I provide about the ingredients and the “no juice” disclaimer comes from a new or old can and about some legal issues.

Sadly, the info is actually from the new “natural” can. It looks like if marketing was too stupid to catch these problems…maybe the legal dogs would have. But alas, no.

Also since posting this originally…I have discovered that The Center for Science in the Public Interest may be filing a lawsuit over these (un)natural claims.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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One comment on “They must think we’re un-stupid
  1. jon says:

    While I agree 100% with everything your saying, I’m wondering if you were looking at the “new” cans or the old cans? I haven’t seen these cans at my local store yet so I have no way to investigate this. You didn’t spell out if you hunted down a “new” can or not (which is why I’m asking). If 7up was in fact falsely making claims, wouldn’t it be illegal based on some sort of consumer labeling laws and truth in advertising?

    Curious.