Remember that summer sport we used to watch before the World Cup? Liz Hamson finds it courting Britvic

When Britvic Soft Drinks decided to make the most of its sponsorship through Robinsons of Wimbledon to launch its first advertising campaign for the squash brand in 13 years, it begged the question: was its serve a bit off? After all, every other brand seems to have ­associated itself with a rather bigger sporting event. But while the £4m advertising and marketing campaign featuring Tim Henman and Andy Murray may initially have been overshadowed by the frenetic activity surrounding the World Cup, Britvic believes that, as football fatigue sets in, it could well have served an ace.
In reinforcing Robinsons&' 70-year-old association with Wimbledon, it hopes to appeal to tennis fans and football widows. It also wants to put pretenders in their place, says Andrew Marsden, Britvic category director, adding that it has the World Cup covered with Pepsi Max.
He says: "Part of it is because other brands have started associating themselves with Wimbledon. It reminded us we haven&'t reinforced the connection for a long time."
That connection is a strong one. Robinsons lemon barley water was actually invented at Wimbledon in 1934 when Eric Smedley Hodgson, a medical rep, concocted a mixture of water, barley, lemon juice and sugar - the first energy drink - for players. Just as Robinsons was once Fred Perry&'s drink of choice, it is now Henman&'s. Britvic also sponsors the sport&'s stars, including Henman and Murray.
"One in four UK adults knows of the relationship with Wimbledon and even more associate it with tennis," says Marsden. "There&'s a historic connection. We decided to bring that out more strongly."
The campaign features a text-to-win promotion allowing consumers to enter a daily prize draw to win VIP tickets. From 26 June, those in the queue can use their mobiles to be &'Court on Camera&' by taking pictures that will be shown later on a big screen.
Marsden is confident the campaign will update the image of the UK&'s number one squash: "Although people think of Robinsons as an old brand, it&'s leading edge in terms of innovation."
Britvic has launched more new products in the past six months than in its entire history, he claims. In April, Robinsons Fruit Shoot H2O, a water with natural flavours for kids, hit the shelves. Just over three months ago Drench, a 100% spring water aimed at urban youth, was launched. The brand is now selling at a multiple of three times its biggest competitor, claims Marsden, who feels there has been a move away from carbonates that brands like Robinsons and Drench can tap into. "There are two trends: health and wellness and adult indulgence," he says. Even so, its carbonated drinks, such as Tango Clear, should benefit from the trend for "better for you" carbonated drinks, he believes.
However, you won&'t see innovation for innovation&'s sake, he promises. "There are an awful lot of copyists and very little genuine innovation. One of my jobs is to ensure that what we&'re offering is genuine innovation."
Unfortunately the harsh retail environment doesn&'t always make that easy. Retailers need to be more alive to "mutual opportunities for growth", says Marsden. "Support of the larger innovations could be better. They&'ll take the odd thing that&'s really high margin but forget that they might not sell any of it. The issue is to maintain a proper sense of proportion."
In running a tennis-related promotion just as the world is focused on football, Britvic hopes to do just that itself.n