Schweppes is going up against Britvic's J2O brand in adult soft drinks with a new sparkling range called Straightcut.

The solo soft drink approach is a new one for Schweppes, which has usually concentrated on mixers, but the company believes it has identified a clear gap for an adult sparkling beverage in a growing market.

J2O, a still range aimed at adults, hit shelves five years ago and was worth nearly £43m last year, ranking sixth in the UK's top-performing soft drinks brands and growing 26.6% [Nielsen 52 w/e 7 October, 2006].

According to Schweppes, 30 to 39-year-olds consume 1.266 billion drinks a year in the UK, more than any other age group.

Rolling out this month, Straightcut will be launched initially in four variants: regular and slimline lemon, slimline grapefruit and mandarin and regular pomegranate & blueberry.

The company said citrus flavour featured strongly because its research revealed adults generally prefer them. Other flavours and limited-edition lines follow later in the year. 

The drinks also harness the trend towards healthier consumption as they contain real fruit and have no artificial colours or flavours.

Packaging features muted colours and visuals showing the fruit inside. The drinks' adult-orientation is flagged up on the bottle, along with messages, such as: 'It's 'Schweppes' but it's not a mixer. Have we lost our marbles? No, we just thought it was time there was a drink for adults.'

The launch will be backed by TV and radio advertising targeting 30-somethings.

The radio campaign, which breaks next week, features voices of the stars of the BBC comedy Man Stroke Woman, while the TV support comes from an ongoing campaign for the brand.

This shows a barman preparing Schweppes-based drinks at a party at lightning speed, backed by a quirky version of the 1950s song Cocktails for Two.

The campaign currently features Schweppes mixers but from next week, will have an end frame that highlights Straightcut.