c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

New year’s resolutions to get in shape are a boon to fitness clubs and diet brands, but 7Up Ten, a low-calorie soft drink, is taking the unusual approach of advocating giving up resolutions themselves.

In a series of 10 tongue-in-cheek online videos, Chelsea Handler, the host of “Chelsea Lately” on the E! network, argues against such avowals as joining a gym, going back to school or switching jobs.

“So, you want to find ‘the one’? There is no such thing as ‘the one,’” Handler says in the opening of a romance-themed video. “It’s important for you to lose hope before it’s too late,” she continues, adding that there are “many people who will seem great at first, but after a month, they’ll either want you to meet their mother or want you to be their mother.”

In another video about earning advanced degrees, Handler suggests going back to kindergarten, “where you can take naps and drink juice boxes, and the only thing you are judged on is finger painting.” She adds, “If you want to learn something, that’s what the Internet is for.”

At the close of the videos, Handler says: “Full Flavor. Only 10 calories. 7Up Ten — now that’s a resolution you can keep.”

Creative services for the campaign, which is being pitched to women and men ages 29 to 34, are by Code and Theory, an independent digital agency. The videos will be introduced Thursday on TenSoda.com, where the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which owns the 7Up brand, also promotes other 10-calorie versions of its soft drink brands: Sunkist Ten, A & W Ten, Canada Dry Ten and RC Ten. The 10-calorie drinks were introduced in test markets in 2012 and rolled out nationally early in 2013. (Dr Pepper Ten, which dates from 2011, has an independent marketing strategy that pitches it as a manly drink for men, and is not promoted on the website for the rest of the line.)

In the first nine months of 2012, when the 10-calorie line was being test-marketed, the company spent $28.2 million on promoting regular 7Up and $186,000 on 7Up Ten, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP. During the same period of 2013, it spent $16.6 million on 7Up Ten and $10 million on the original 7Up.

Eric Blackwood, director of brand marketing at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, said the videos would stand apart from resolution-related marketing that tends to paint a rosier picture.

“During this first time of the year, everyone is telling consumers all these things to help them with their resolutions,” Blackwood said. “We’re telling them they don’t have to worry about their resolutions with us, because there’s no sacrifice.”

In addition to the artificial sweetener aspartame, the 10-calorie versions have a smidgen of corn syrup, which addresses what fans of the formulations dislike about diet soda.

“One of the differences between diet and full-calorie soda is the mouthfeel,” said Blackwood, using a term for palatability that is popular with food marketers and chefs. “Diet doesn’t have that full mouthfeel, but the Ten line has the mouthfeel and taste of regular soda.”

Steve Tanner, a reviewer on BevReview.com, wrote that “while Diet 7Up has noticeable medicinal flavoring and obvious artificial sweetener aftertaste, 7Up Ten does a much better job of masking that.” He added that “while you can still taste hints of the artificial sweeteners, it’s nowhere as bad as Diet 7Up.”

The soda market has stumbled in recent years, as bottled water has gained popularity and regular soda has been linked to obesity. Dollar sales of carbonated beverages fell 3.1 percent in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 1, according to IRI, a market data firm. Today, Americans drink an average of 44 gallons of soda and 58 gallons of water a year, the near inverse of 1998, when they drank 54 gallons of soda and 42 gallons of water, according to Beverage Digest data cited by The Associated Press.

Blackwood said that in its first year, sales of the 10-calorie line have been largely incremental, meaning rather than just diverting soda drinkers from another soda, it has both returned lapsed carbonated beverage drinkers to the soda aisle and prompted other soda drinkers to drink more.

“A lot of consumers who left carbonated soft drinks altogether are coming back for a product like Ten,” said Blackwood, adding that a typical increased-consumption case would be a consumer who had previously permitted himself just one can of regular 7Up with lunch daily now also buying a 7Up Ten in the late afternoon because the added calories are trivial.


While consumers typically identify either as regular soda or diet soda drinkers, Mintel, a market research company, wrote in a June report that a key to soda brands rebounding is shifting that mindset.

“Manufacturers must create more opportunities and occasions for soft drink consumption, including emphasizing the breadth of their sparkling portfolios,” the report stated. “For instance, suggesting a full-calorie cola when visiting with friends, but a diet citrus soda for an afternoon soda break, and a low-calorie root beer while watching television.”

Larry D. Young, chief executive of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Wayne R. Sanders, the chairman, wrote in an introductory letter to its 2012 annual report in March that the 10-calorie line is “a critical part of a long-term strategy designed to increase consumption frequency and capture lapsed users.” It has, they wrote, “tremendous potential not only for our business, but for the carbonated soft drink category as a whole.”