Coca-Cola Enterprises and Diageo have joined forces for a cross-merchandising, joint marketing campaign that is predicted to be worth £230m in sales by 2012.

The drinks giants have united for 'Together for a Better Summer' an off-trade-focused initiative that aims to increase sales of spirits and mixers by merchandising CCE's Schweppes and Coca-Cola drinks alongside Diageo's Smirnoff, Gordon's and Pimm's brands.

Link-save deals and branded PoS highlighting popular spirit and mixer combinations will encourage consumers to buy the drinks together and the companies have committed more than £4m in a heavyweight push kicking off in May.

While it was easy for consumers to add a mixer to a spirit at home, it was a challenge to buy them together in store, said David Smith, sales director at Diageo GB.

"We want to help retailers make it easier for British shoppers to buy spirits and mixers together. From a mixer perspective it's potentially game-changing. We know that when they do buy them together the basket spend rises and we predict it could create a £230m retail sale value in two years."

Craig Smith, VP of marketing and strategic planning at CCE, said the companies would like to work with all British retailers "for convenience purposes."

"It is a joint-category solution and we anticipate different retailers will cover different aspects of it," he said. "It will probably feature on the gondola ends and maybe front of store. It's less about changing the spirits fixture layout and more about improving visibility."

They denied the move was a means to revive sales in the spirits and mixer soft drinks categories, pointing out that sales of spirits rose 6% to £2.6bn last year [Kantar 52w/e 24 January] while CCE claims the Schweppes range has grown 4%, with Coca-Cola up 9.2%. Diageo and CCE have already collaborated with the Gordon's gin & Schweppes pre-mix can, which they described as a catalyst for the activity.

Partnerships between such heavyweight suppliers could be a recurring trend, added David Smith.

"If the category growth opportunity is right, and the synergy makes sense, we think this could be a very interesting trend. For us, it is a natural relationship which has been there all along, with many of Diageo's spirits traditionally being purchased alongside many of CCE's mixer brands."

Chris Sorek, CEO of Drinkaware, also saw the move as an opportunity to remind consumers of the importance of balancing consumption of alcohol with soft drinks.