This article is part of our 2016 Soft Drinks Digital Feature.

Soft drinks brands have been splashing the cash with ad spend up 51.4%, taking the total spent on traditional advertising to £37.8m [Ebiquity 52 w/e 31 January 2016].

Coca-Cola tops the table with a whopping £30m spend in total, with  an increase in support for all of its brands except Diet Coke. It increased spend on Red Coke by 33.9% to £13.3m, with a 79% increase in support for Coke Life as well.

Notably, advertising spend for campaigns featuring all four variants more than doubled to £5.6m after it rolled out its one brand marketing strategy in March 2015, which sees Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke Life all appear in the ads. CCE has continued it this year with the Taste the Feeling campaign. 

“I’m a big believer in that campaign simply because there’s one brand and four distinct variants, allowing consumers to pick and choose,” says Leendert den Hollander, CCE vice president and general manager.

“As opposed to trying to establish different brand - Diet Coke as opposed to red Coke and so on - we now have one campaign, Taste the Feeling, and one brand with four distinct variants. It’s really compelling. We’ve just started but I think it’s the start of something good. ”

Barr also upped support for Scottish favourite Irn-Bru­ with the bulk of the £1.8m spent on TV advertising. Mixer Fever-Tree, meanwhile, secured the biggest growth in ad spend (albeit from a very small base) by 2,088.9%.

MediaTOTAL CinemaOutdoorPressRadioTV
Brands Spend (£) Y-O-Y % % % % %
Coca-Cola 13.3 33.9% 0.5 62.9 0.2 - 36.4
Coca-Cola Company 5.6 169.4% 0.3 0.5 46.6 4.4 48.2
Diet Coke 5.2 -0.2% - 12.9 12.5 - 74.6
Coca-Cola Zero 3.5 20.9% - 30.2 4.0 - 65.8
Coca-Cola Life 2.4 79.0% - 18.5 7.8 - 73.7
Irn-Bru 1.8 171.5% 17.5 0.9 1.3 - 80.3
Pepsi Max 2.3 -18.7% 10.6 47.3 0.3 - 41.7
7Up 1.4 - - 100.0 - - 0.0
Fever-Tree 1.2 2088.9% - - 8.1 - 91.9
Orangina 1.1 - 45.3 54.1 0.6 - -
TOTAL 37.8 51.4% 3.0 36.1 10.0 0.7 50.3

Here’s our pick of the most notable soft drinks adverts from the past year…

Coca-Cola: Choose Happiness

Choose Taste. Choose Choice. Choose Coca-Cola. Not a reworking of Renton’s infamous monologue in the 1996 film Trainspotting, but perhaps the biggest shift in Coke’s marketing approach in the brand’s history. For the first time last year, Coke adopted a ‘master brand’ strategy, advertising all four variants as a single brand. Sugar, or rather the lack of, is highlighted prominently in an attempt to help consumers better understand the role of different variants within the range. Still, increasing spend to £5.6m did little to alleviate woes for more established members of the range: red Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero all saw value and volume fall. Nevertheless, the strategy is here to stay; in January Coca-Cola launched the Taste the Feeling campaign globally, rolling rolling all variants into a single master brand. 

Pepsi Max

Taking life and technology to the Max, Pepsi Max unveiled its first-ever global brand campaign, launched with this Drone Football video. The social media-led campaign called Genius is all about feats and experiences designed to delight and surprise those involved and those watching. Pepsi will undoubtedly be delighted with the results. Despite cutting traditional ad spend by 18.7% (Ebiquity’s numbers don’t include online activity), Pepsi Max’s UK sales are booming. In fact, it was the only top 10 selling soft drink to see any real growth [IRI] - unlike rival Coke, which saw declines across the board.

Irn Bru

Staying true to its Scottish routes, Irn-Bru rolled out its controversial but hilarious advert once again. Featuring the tagline ‘Irn Bru will get you through’, the ad sees a new father struggling to maintain his composure during the naming of his newborn daughter, with his partner insisting on the name Fanny. It has all the makings of a memorable ad, sparking complaints and even a spoof version.The hilarity couldn’t save sales, though and, like the majority of the category, full sugar Irn Bru saw sales fall by 3.7% on volumes down 1.1% [IRI 52 w/e 30 January 2016]. The low-calorie version did see a 0.8% uplift in volume sales, though.

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