Well, there's another 7Up ruined.
Back in February, the folks at Dr Pepper Snapple Group announced that they were rolling out a new beverage called Cherry 7Up Antioxidant, which, in effect, was replacing the old Cherry 7Up that was released in the 1980s.
Just what was the big deal about this revitalized flavor? Let's take a look at the official spin via the press release:
7UP Gives Consumers a New Reason to Fall in Love – New Cherry 7UP Antioxidant
Cherry 7UP Antioxidant Allows Consumers to Cherry Pick Their Antioxidant
PLANO, Texas, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Just in time for the perfect Valentine's Day toast, the 7UP brand is romancing consumers with its latest creation – Cherry 7UP Antioxidant. The pink-hued, crisp and refreshing beverage combines the delicious flavor of 7UP with a hint of cherry flavor and the bonus of antioxidant Vitamin E.
"Cherry 7UP Antioxidant gives consumers a refreshing way to enjoy more of the antioxidants they are looking for," said Ian Norton, brand manager of marketing for 7UP. "People want to fall in love with beverages that taste great and provide a fun way to get benefits. And that's exactly what Cherry 7UP Antioxidant delivers."
The new Cherry 7UP Antioxidant includes 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E per eight ounce serving. Cherry 7UP Antioxidant is available now in both regular and diet versions and, like all 7UP products, is 100 percent naturally flavored and caffeine free.
The nationwide launch of Cherry 7UP Antioxidant will be supported by an integrated marketing campaign featuring TV and print advertisements. Consumers can also visit www.7UP.com and download a coupon for $1 off a 12-pack of Cherry 7UP Antioxidant.
Cherry 7UP Antioxidant is available nationwide everywhere 7UP products are sold. The new flavor will be available in 12-pack, 2 liter and 20-ounce sizes, as well in 8-ounce trial cans.
I have to ask… what is with 7Up and their desire to make the brand relevant by adding stuff to it that doesn't make any sense? I mean, I think the folks at Dr Pepper Snapple Group have hit a home run modifying their namesake with Dr Pepper Cherry. It's great! Yet 7Up gets tossed to the curb with… antioxidants? Is there no love for 7Up?
Out of the gate, based on perception alone, Cherry 7UP Antioxidant smacks of another failed 7Up extension… 7Up Plus. Do we really have to relive the horrid tastes that were 7Up Plus Mixed Berry, 7Up Plus Island Fruit, and 7Up Plus Cherry? Those drinks played the same game, attempting to differentiate by including "real fruit juice, calcium and vitamin C". Guess what? It didn't work. 7Up Plus has pretty much disappeared from the marketplace. Yet we're now messing with Cherry 7Up by adding Vitamin E and saying "hey, this is great!"
I'm not sure what's going on with the brand, and I know 7Up has lost a lot of marketshare to the likes of Sprite and Sierra Mist, but this continued reformulation angle just doesn't seem to be cutting it. Remember the last big change? When 7Up announced that it was shifting to "natural ingredients"? Well, that change actually made 7Up taste worse, in our opinion, especially since it still contained high fructose corn syrup. Incidentally, those claims prompted a lawsuit from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, noting that HFCS wasn't exactly natural. In the end, the drink was relabeled from "100 Natural Ingredients" to "100% Natural Flavors".
The new Cherry 7Up Antioxidant also features "100% Natural Flavors", and the previously noted inclusion of Vitamin E, which is the antioxidant in question. The drink is less pink than the original Cherry 7Up, this time skewing more reddish in color. The scent hints at a cherry-ized version of Sierra Mist, with its fake-tasting lemon-lime influence. There's the smell of cherry, but it's not the same as the original version. I know because I tested these side-by-side (thankfully, a store down the street still had some older stock of regular Cherry 7Up… may that flavor RIP).
As for the taste? Well, take everything you loved about regular Cherry 7Up and throw it out the window. This new Cherry 7Up Antioxidant is amazingly syrupy and fake. Yes, there's a cherry taste, but it's not the light influence you once knew. Instead, it borders on liquid candy, especially in the aftertaste. It's more juice-like, less 7Up. It does not convey, "hey, here's a light refreshing cherry drink that won't overwhelm you." Instead, it's more like "hey man, we're cherry, but we're cherry with some MORE STUFF, so don't miss it… and we won't let you!" (Hmm, maybe I should write a play with the characters of Cherry 7Up and Cherry 7Up Antioxidant!)
Cherry 7Up Antioxidant
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and contains 2% of less of each of the following: citric acid, natural flavors, potassium benzoate (preservative), vitamin E acetate, red 40
A 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 70 mg of sodium, and 64 g carbs (63 g sugars).
Overall, the drink had a negative effect on me. I know I'm biased given my passion for the previous version, but here's a good example of why messing with the formula might not have been a good thing. The problem wasn't the formula. It was in perception, marketing, and appearance. Just because the drink now has Vitamin E, do you expect a huge jump in sales? Is that really going to influence a customer's buying habits… for soda? Did we learn nothing from Diet Coke Plus? Soft drinks aren't healthy!
Cherry 7Up Antioxidant is not an improvement over its predecessor, Cherry 7Up. It shifted from a light, cherry-infused drink built on a lemon-lime base to a heavy, syrup-laden albatross that probably isn't going to help its market share. It needs a do-over!