Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.

AuthorRebecca Stanfel, Kevin Teague

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5301 Legacy Drive

Plano, Texas 75024


Telephone: (972) 673-7000

Fax: (972) 673-7000

Web site: www.dpsu.com


After an upturn in its fortunes in the highly competitive soft-drink industry, in 1997 Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc., a subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes, reigned as the leading noncola soft-drink business in North America. Its spicy beverage Dr Pepper was the third-best-selling noncola soft drink in America and was outsold only by PepsiCo's Mountain Dew and the Coca-Cola Company's Sprite. Analysts within the soft-drink industry attributed Dr Pepper's success partly to its unrivaled position as the leading spicy soft drink. In contrast, Dr Pepper's sister brand 7 UP was competing against other successful lemon-lime soft drinks, such as Sprite. Dr Pepper had been advertising with the cumbersome tagline "Now Is the Time. This Is the Place. Dr Pepper, This Is the Taste." In an effort to continue its sales growth and streamline its previous tagline, Dr Pepper/Seven Up released a campaign called "This Is the Taste."

The ad agency Young & Rubicam created "This Is the Taste" with Dr Pepper's estimated $55 million advertising budget. The campaign, which consisted of print ads and television spots, debuted on January 1, 1998, with four commercials that emphasized the unique flavor of Dr Pepper. Young & Rubicam conceived commercials that attempted to "deliver [this] hard-hitting claim in a humorous way," John Swan, an agency partner, explained to Adweek. One of the spots depicted John Madden, a former National Football League (NFL) coach, searching a deserted stadium trying to find the elusive meaning of the game. His journey ended in success at a Dr Pepper vending machine. The campaign continued into 1999 with soccer-themed commercials featuring American and Mexican athletes. All spots closed with the "This Is the Taste" slogan. The campaign ended January 1, 2000.

"This Is the Taste" was proclaimed a success by both Dr Pepper and industry experts. In 1999 Dr Pepper's sales grew at a faster rate than that of the overall soft-drink industry. The campaign's final year marked the 15th consecutive year of sales growth for Dr Pepper.


Founded in 1885, Dr Pepper was the oldest of the major soft-drink brands in the United States. But despite its distinctive taste, the beverage had never achieved the mass acceptance of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. For most of its history Dr Pepper's advertising had tried to make a virtue of this outsider image. After billing itself as the "most original soft drink ever" for much of the 1970s, the company switched to the funky and popular "Be a Pepper" campaign in 1977. Following the conclusion of its "Hold Out for Out-Of-the-Ordinary" campaign in 1987, Dr Pepper was the fifth-best-selling soft drink in

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the country. "We're pretty comfortable with the idea that consumers know we're different," a company spokesperson told USA Today.

Dr Pepper's uniqueness was again to be a significant asset during the 1990s. Beginning in 1990 Americans' love affair with colas began to wane. According to the Wall Street Journal, the combined share of colas in the United States dropped from 72 percent in 1990 to 64 percent in 1996. In place of colas, consumers swilled ever greater amounts of so-called noncolas—primarily Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, and Sprite. By 1995 Dr Pepper was the fourth most popular soft drink in the country, and its year-end sales were up 6.9 percent, far surpassing the remainder of the industry, which grew by only 3 percent. Despite this remarkable growth spurt, however, its two noncola counterparts, Sprite and Mountain Dew, outpaced Dr Pepper. After a year of record-breaking sales, Sprite displaced Dr Pepper as the leading noncola beverage in 1996, when its sales volume jumped 12 percent from 1995. Mountain Dew also performed well. In response, Dr Pepper created "Now Is the Time. This Is the Place. Dr Pepper, This Is the Taste," to add momentum to the Dr Pepper brand. Nevertheless, while 1997 proved to be another growth year for Dr Pepper, Sprite and Mountain Dew continued to sell better. Prior to its inauguration of the 1998 "This Is the Taste" commercials, Dr Pepper possessed 5.8 percent of the domestic soft-drink market, while Mountain Dew and Sprite respectively...

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