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    7-Eleven Gets Inked

    Proprietary energy drink line targets tattooed young Americans.

    DALLAS -- 7-Eleven is attempting to make a mark in the energy drink category with Inked, its proprietary energy drink line targeting a growing niche market -- young, tattooed Americans, the company stated.

    "Most other energy drinks on the market target a male audience through extreme sports sponsorships, alternative rock music and 'darker' macho graphics," Michele Little, 7-Eleven category manager of non-carbonated beverages, said in a statement. "The tattoo culture crosses all those interests, and with Inked, we hope to reach the male extreme sports and alt-rock fan base without forgetting about the females. Instead of an emblem of patriotism or mark of rebellion, today's tattoos have become status symbols, first among celebrities like athletes and performing artists, and now with the young and hip."

    The tagline for the line is "What's Your Story?" -- a reference to the stories embodied by many peoples' tattoos.

    "A tattoo can mark a rite of passage or act of independence for an 18-year-old, a subtle symbol of an alma mater, Greek organization or religious group, or a milestone in a life such as the birth of a child or personal accomplishment," Little said. "The rite of tattoo passage isn't only limited to the young but also to those who think and act young. We want to reach all of them."

    The convenience retailer began work in March 2007 with Cott Corp. and Daymon Worldwide to create the proprietary beverage. Cott is the same company that manufacturer Buzz Cola for 7-Eleven, the carbonated soft drink used in the chain's "Simpsons" promotion when the movie of the same name was released this summer.

    Inked energy drinks will be sold in 12-ounce cans and will hit the cooler this month with a suggested retail price of $1.99, according to the company. The two flavors -- Maori Citrus and Chikara Tropical Grapefruit -- feature traditional tattoo designs as logos.

    The Maori Citrus flavor is named after natives of New Zealand who have a history of tattooing. The culture was brought to Europe by British Navy Captain John Cook, the company stated. The Chikara Tropical Grapefruit flavor gets its name from the Chinese character meaning "power," while the can sports a tsunami logo, according to the company.

    "We wanted to create a drink that appealed to men and women, and the tattoo culture has really become popular with both genders," said Little. "Surprisingly, the tattooed public is pretty evenly split between males and female, and more professionals are sporting tats, but hidden under their suits."

    The retailer plans to market Inked through grassroots guerilla marketing, at the college level, national tattoo conventions and other local events, along with a "What's Your Story?" Web site and online community for the tattooed crowd.

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