Schweppes- The Making of a 235 Year Old Brand



Scientist Joseph Priestley has historically been credited with the discovery of oxygen and invention of soda water. A jeweler by trade, Jacob Schweppe’s interest in science led him to the novel art of infusing water with carbon dioxide. In 1783 Johann Jacob Schweppe developed a process to manufacture carbonated mineral water based on the discoveries of Joseph Priestley. After 10 years of experimenting Jacob Schweppe invented the first industrial process to capture and bottle bubbles (the process of carbonation). Eventually, Schweppe began charging a small fee for the water and thus J. Schweppe & Company was born. Working from a Swiss lab, Schweppe patented his special process for carbonating water. His achievement was exceptional, but getting the carbonation into the water was only half the challenge. Keeping it in was the tricky part. Schweppe’s true stroke of genius came from his development of a bottle that could retain the carbonation. This started the soft drink business.


His invention, Schweppe’s Soda Water was an immediate success and was endorsed by leading doctors and sold (mainly in pharmacies) as a treatment for a variety of ailments.
By founding Schweppes in Geneva, he founded the modern industry of soft drinks as the creator of the bubble. Schweppe and his business partners soon moved from Switzerland to London, where soda water began to be recognized for its refreshing qualities as a thirst quencher and as a mixer.

As the British Empire grew, so did Schweppes. Englishmen, longing for a taste of home, brought Schweppes to distant countries and extended the brand recognition to all corners of the world.
Only half a century after its invention, the brand became the official supplier of the UK Royal Family including the Duchess of Kent and Princess Victoria. Schweppes was the official drink of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851: a million bottles were sold. It was hosted in London in a building specifically constructed for the purpose called the crystal palace. Visitors from all around the globe passed the entrance gates. Schweppes supplied its soda water throughout the day. The fountain, situated directly at the entrance, became a fundamental part of the brand’s design, and has been echoed on Schweppes packaging ever since.

In the year 1870 Indian Tonic Water and Ginger Ale were launched that still exist today. The unique taste of Indian Tonic is inspired by the Britain colonial practice of preventing malaria in India by using quinine as an antidote. As quinine gives a bitter taste to the drink, the English colonists who settled in India mixed it with lime and gin. On returning home, they continued this practice and the drink became popular in the UK. Around the 1900s, Schweppes began advertising on a more frequent basis, using different visuals to support its range of high quality products. Schweppes receives the Gold, Silver and Bronze medal for its iconic soda water at the Paris Universal Exhibition.

In the roaring 20s the business continues to expand both at home and abroad. During this period of brand growth, Schweppes kept informing its customers about its products, using sophisticated and stylish advertisements to promote the brand making use of an attractive advertising tool; pin-ups!. The 1920’s and 30’s saw the proud launch of its fruit juices: sparkling Orange, Grapefruit, and Lemon.

Due to the war and the subsequent concentration scheme Schweppes (and all its competitors) were rationed, and even disappeared from the market; by abandoning individual labels. But that did not stop Schweppes from advertising. The consumers had to be reassured that one day their established favorite would be back, and life would return to normal.

On June 8, 1946 during the Victory Parade, Schweppes launches its Schweppervescence campaign: Schweppervescence lasts the whole drink through. A complete new word…As of February 1st 1948, after the war, free trade returned; and Schweppes was finally available again, under its own brand name and with its own individual label. In the 50s comes the Schweppshire campaign. Schweppshire was that wonderful thing – brilliant individual advertisements that built up to a long running campaign.

In the United States though, Commander Whitehead came along. He was an English gentleman, with a red naval beard. He would air here for almost two decades and firmly establish the Schweppes brand. In other countries, Schweppes engaged itself with major creative people like Siné, Stephen Potter, George Him, and Leupin.

On May 1st, 1957 two new flavors were launched Bitter Orange and Bitter Lemon, enabled by new knowledge of processing fruit within carbonated soft drinks. Especially the latter became a huge success and created substantial new business for the company.

As the Scandinavians were looking for an ideal mixer to their home-brewed moonshine vodka; Schweppes took on the challenge to create the best mixer to please the consumer. Ultimately creating Russchian – a mysteriously rich blend offering a bouquet of berries, herbaceous notes and hints of the authentic bitter sweetness: Russchian, a truly Schweppian creation.

Schweppes merged with the Cadbury Group, a well-known confectionery company, to form Cadbury Schweppes plc in 1969. With headquarters in London, the company expanded its soft drink and confectionery business internationally. But Cadbury ended up spinning off Schweppes in 2008 as it focused on its core products.

The new Schwepping Campaign was launched in the 80s, and it was a great success!
In 1998, the famous Clive campaigns are launched: The world discovered Clive the Leopard’s fur. By showing this traditional emblem of England, symbolizing pride, competence, and strength, Schweppes proclaimed its return to origins and amazed everybody.

In 2000, launch of pan European brand ambassador campaign with Nicole Kidman as brand ambassador for Schweppes created wonders. So on and so forth.

Today, Schweppes is part of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group, an integrated refreshment beverage business marketing more than 50 beverage brands throughout North America. Schweppes Holdings Limited operates as a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company.

Experimentation, commercialization, innovation, and making good use of the demographics’ itch, nostalgia and habits for marketing purposes has served the brand for 235 years.

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Intelligent Fanatics July 2018 Digest