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Brewdog declared revolution in typical self-aggrandising style on launching POP Soda in 2022. It sneered at “bland” rivals and tried to justify an rsp of £4/6x330ml by suggesting POP was more than just a fizzy drink. The name stood for ‘Planet Over Profit’ and all profits would be used to fight climate change, said the brewer.

It now seems the claims were mostly just hot air. In January, POP was ditched by Tesco, its only major stockist, after less than a year on shelves.

It’s a heady comedown for BrewDog, which soared to success after Tesco listed its flagship Punk IPA over a decade ago. These days, the brand’s eight bestselling beers generate sales of £139m in grocery. POP’s four variants – Hazy Lemon, Jagged Grapefruit, Dark Cherry and Citizen Cola – racked up only £982k in their first seven months [NIQ 52 w/e 10 September 2022].

Part of the problem is that BrewDog’s name didn’t carry into soft drinks.

“Targeting in the beer and soft drinks market are completely different,” says Ian Humphris, CEO of brand consultancy Nokamo. “ BrewDog’s attempt to trade off an adult name in a children’s category was futile.”

Notably absent from BrewDog’s POP strategy were the kind of stunts that made its beer infamous, such driving tanks through London.

“Unusually for BrewDog, it seems the only articles talking about POP Soda are in B2B publications and trade mags, suggesting they’ve failed to do any big customer-focused publicity pushes,” says Brett Janes, MD at Salience Search Marketing. “They haven’t nailed who their new customer is or their visual branding.”

Some will also note the adverse press that BrewDog as a whole has suffered of late over poor working practices (pushed back on by the brand) and seeming hypocrisy relating to its ‘anti-sponsor’ push over the Qatar World Cup.

But Janes reckons such controversies made little difference to POP. “My guess is that Tesco would look at the individual products from a purely sales-driven point of view.”

He also points to more effective challengers, such as US water brand Liquid Death, which will roll onto Amazon UK in May with the slogan ‘Murder Your Thirst’. “Everything about Liquid Death screams understanding their audience,” he adds.

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