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    Customers Taking To New, All-Natural 7Up

    Since the better-for-you campaign began, sales have been better for Cadbury Schweppes.

    NEW YORK -- Lemon-lime 7Up, which in April was reformulated to contain nearly 50 percent less sodium and eliminate an artificial preservative, is seeing all-natural sales growth, according to a recent USA Today report.

    A top-10 soft-drink brand in sales as recently as 2003, 7Up's fortunes had declined in recent years. Sales dropped 9.3 percent in 2004 and 6.5 percent in 2005. Since the all-natural campaign began in May, that sales trend has reversed.

    The newspaper, citing figures from Beverage Digest, said for the 15 weeks ended Aug. 26, 7Up sales rose 18 percent versus the same period a year ago. In the highly competitive, $70 billion soft-drink business, that's an impressive sales turnaround.

    "We haven't seen consistent growth like that in several years," said Kelli Freeman, the company's vice president of marketing. "7Up is popping in every way. It's not just one thing. It's a product consumers say they love the taste of."

    The new upbeat advertising by Young & Rubicam of San Francisco features the song Sunshine by the 1970s pop band, The Partridge Family. The message that 7Up is all natural is illustrated by showing cans of varying size being treated like produce, gingerly picked in orchards, squeezed and smelled in grocery produce aisles and washed in kitchen sinks. An oversized can even takes top prize at a state fair.

    The ads are "meant to be light and optimistic with our tongue firmly planted in cheek," Scott Larsen, executive creative director, Young & Rubicam, told USA Today. "The fun visuals are meant to be tongue-in-cheek without going overboard. If we served up the message seriously, it would be flat. If we did it too over-the-top, it would be goofy."

    The advertising is among the best-performing in the company's research, and it's making sales, according to Freeman. "As we had hoped, we've seen a lot of consumers who said, 'I haven't had 7Up in a long time. Now I'm back,'" she noted.

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