It was the year when Sunny Delight lost out to the sheer energy of energy drinks It's easy to see why the hot beverages category has been in the doldrums when you compare it with the hotbed of activity in the soft drinks sector. The year 2000 has seen a plethora of new drinks launches, revamped packaging and aggressive marketing activity as manufacturers bid to make theirs the drink of choice among a notoriously fickle (and generally youthful) audience. Yet in spite of all this frenzy, this has only given the total category a growth figure of less than 1%. Yesterday's star Sunny Delight has been eclipsed by the success of the raging energy drinks sector. The P&G brand has seen sales slump by a third over the past year. This is partly due to the negative criticism about the sugar content of the drink and partly because initial high sales eventually had to level out. P&G's enthusiasm for the launch of a Light version of Sunny D at the end of September ­ backed by a £6m advertising campaign ­ has yet to translate into sales and provide the hoped-for halo effect on the brand. However the company anticipates a 30% boost in Sunny D sales over the next year on the back of the new variant. In the meantime, the trade has been kept happy, reporting that the launch of Juice Up from Britvic Soft Drinks ­ a direct rival to Sunny D ­ has led to a clutch of favourable deals from the P&G camp. And in the meantime Capri Sun has pushed out the likes of Kia Ora from the top 20 to sneak in at number 19 with nearly 31% growth over the past year. But the fastest growing drink in the top 20 is Red Bull. The brand has doubled its sales over the past year and sales in the multiples alone are up from just under £10m in 1999 to over £22m this year. An increase in marketing spend to £15m has undoubtedly helped sales, as has the company's argument that more shelf space should be given over to energy drinks as the sector can generate a much higher rate of sale than ordinary soft drinks. Well, Red Bull has a lot to answer for as it has inspired a whole host of me-toos. The energy drinks buyer now has a whole host of choices with varying levels of caffeine and taurine. They often have Red in their title such as Red Alert, Red Devil and Red Rooster ­ but the choice also includes SmithKline Beecham's Solstis, Virgin's dt:nt, and more recent launches Shark and SoBe. Sports and isotonic drinks are also muscling in on the soft drinks sector with launches such as Umbro Hypotonic Sports Drink and Hyposport from Performance Strategies (Sport). And Lucozade has capitalised on the interest in all things energy with a sales increase of 34%. The ongoing battle of the cola brands ­ whose marketing campaigns feature the top pop and sports stars of the moment ­ is in full swing, with sales increases for both Coca-Cola (up 5.6%) and for Pepsi (up 13.8%). The fight between fruit carbonates has not been favourable to all, however. Youth oriented brand Tango seems to be losing popularity to rival Fanta. Sales of the latter are up 8.4% whereas Tango's are down 15.4% year on year ­ in spite of the introduction of the diddy 250ml bottles, a cherry variant and the ongoing irreverent ad campaign. It remains to be seen whether the new Feed the Tango Inside' ad campaign can reverse Tango's downward slide. On the subject of irreverence, Scottish favourite Irn-Bru is making more of an impact nationally. Its cheeky advertising campaign seems to have captured the hearts (and the hangovers) of the nation with a 13.2% jump in sales. It has been a year of mixed fortunes for fruit juice brands. Tropicana Pure Premium has grown by nearly 10% and Del Monte by 2.4% but Ocean Spray's sales have dipped by 4.1% in spite of a £6m marketing programme this year. One of the most dynamic categories over the past year has been water. Stylish advertising and elegant new bottles have kept the Evian brand buoyant with nearly 18% growth in sales. Its sister brand Volvic ­ while not making it into the top 20 ­ brought out Touch of Fruit, a fruit flavoured still mineral water. And Silver Spring ­ with a 10.2% spurt in sales for its Perfectly Clear sparkling water brand ­ recently made a splash in the flavoured still pool with the launch of Perfectly Clear Still in November. Other significant new launches which have yet to make an impact on our top 20 include T&T Beverages (aimed at teenagers) and Britvic's Fruit Shoot (aimed at kids). And so the adults don't feel left out, Britvic has relaunched its Idris and R Whites brands and plans to quench adult thirst by making the most of its acquisition of the Orchid Drinks portfolio, including the Amé and Purdeys brands. {{MARKETING }}