Snapple Beverages Group, a subsidiary of Cadbury Schweppes PLC, this week inaugurates a new Web site that is part of a $40 million marketing push to make Snapple's line of non-carbonated teas and fruit drinks appealing to its core users and younger consumers.
Instead of a cookie-cutter site that could be mistaken for any other beverage marketers, Snapple created an online town called Snappleton on www.snapple.com.
“The Web is one component of this entire effort to reposition and re-establish Snapple's place in this drink hierarchy, particularly with the current biggest volume consumers, ages 15 to 24 years,” said Fred Rubin, executive vice president and director of iDeutsch and directDeutsch, part of Snapple agency Deutsch Inc., New York.
“We've made the site relevant,” he said. “The challenge was, how do we make it a really unique experience that doesn't just get mushed up with sorbets on the one hand and Coca-Cola on the other hand?”
Meant to give a texture of real life and personality, Snappleton boasts residents with personality and buildings with purpose. Running a cursor on any of them brings up a blurb. Click on that, and the visitor goes to another level on the site.
One can meet a juggler next to a fountain or a kid standing outside a bus-full of Snapple. If the user runs the cursor over a building called the News Shack, here's what pops up: “Talk to Nora to get the latest Snapple news and events. She will always have something interesting to say.”
Go to Info Center, and the blurb is: “If you have questions about Snapple, talk to Barb. But ask nicely — she has a short fuse.”
Walk over to the Best Stuff Shop and here's what one's told: “See the town, then take a souvenir. Randy, your very personal shopper, will be happy to assist you.”
The Drinkmart urges the visitor, “Stop running around like a rabid squirrel — step inside and check out new flavors and drink favorites.” And a visit to Snaplex Cinema lets users view the latest Snapple commercials.
But for all the smart lines, Snapple has not forgotten the marketing. At Mail-Express, a viral marketing measure, the blurb for that building says, “Don't risk getting a paper-cut from an envelope. Send your friends messages via Mail-Express.”
As for promotions, a floating blimp image does the job. Last wek, Snapple was running a “What's Your Story?” contest. Participants are asked to submit a 100-word story on a real-life experience. The best one gets made into a television commercial.
The blimp will house future promotions, either integrated or online-only.
“I think that given the audience that we're talking about, we're dealing with people for whom the Internet is a part of their lives,” Rubin said. “It's a primary communications, information and, in some respects, even an entertainment medium for them.
“By definition, Snapple could be the kind of vital, vibrant brand for this group,” he said. “There is an obligation to be representative.”
IDeutsch's interactive work aims to reflect Snapple's positioning statement as beverages for everyday life.
“Snapple is not about the fantasy times that we dream about,” said Ingrid Bernstein, senior vice president and creative director of iDeutsch, “and I think a lot of other beverages really go toward that fantasy-kind of aspiration place, which is more like Britney Spears or snowboarding, those kinds of aspirations.”
The Internet effort will be flanked by six humorous commercials that capture real-life experiences; outdoor ads on billboards, bus shelters and phone and mall kiosks; deli bags with silhouetted bottles and die-cut decals; public relations; and promotions.
E-mail to a Snapple database will break in a few months.
With this campaign, Snapple aims to hold its ground in an alternative drinks category it invented in 1972.
Though still leading in the domestic premium iced tea, juice drink and diet segments with 31 flavors, Snapple faces tough competition from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle and smaller brands, including Cadbury Schweppes' Nantucket Nectars brand, in the market with their own non-carbonated drinks.
Then there is another challenge.
“The population of Snapple drinkers has been aging to some extent, so again water becomes a competitor of Snapple,” Rubin said. “So it's more about the marketplace dynamics than just saying Snapple's a fruit drink.”