What's Happening Across Beverages

Here’s something that might end up a boon for your sales – of both Coke and cleaning products! Remember that great Internet video from those two nerdy, Devo-looking guys from EepyBird.com, the one where they drop Mentos into Diet Coke and create a display that mimics the fountains at the Bellagio hotel in Vegas?

Turns out that after Coke ham-handedly tried to distance itself from the video’s good, clean fun early on, despite the fact that even the ghost of Robert Woodruff could have told them they had a minor pop-culture sensation on their hands, they finally managed to do what Coke does best: co-opt good clean fun for corporate ends.

Check out the latest EepyBird video on YouTube.com, and you’ll see the same two nerdy dudes exploding an even bigger Mento-and-Diet-Coke sodascape – only then, they dare viewers to conduct a Coke experiment of their own via the “Poetry in Motion” video challenge.

Meanwhile, go to the EepyBird home page and you’ll see a link to the ever-corporate Coca-Cola Co. Web site, as well as a big, fat thank you to Coke and Mentos.

So if you see a spike in case sales of 2 L Cokes – followed by a spike in Ajax and mops, you’ll know the reason. Meanwhile, why not conduct an experiment of your own? See if Enviga really works. Then let us know….

7-ELEVEN TO FRANCHISEES: NO DEALING COCAINE

As predicted, Cocaine is already feeling some pain. The negative press campaign against the non-narcotic energy drink – manufactured by Las Vegas-based Redux Beverages – continued strongly throughout the fall, while retailers remained skeptical.

One major blow against the supercaffeinated (nearly 300 mg) beverage came from the West Coast, where negative calls to convenience giant 7-Eleven Inc.’s corporate offices over the decision by a single San Josearea franchisee to stock the product resulted in a company- wide advisory against carrying it.

BY GEORGE, LET’S GIVE KILLIAN’S A FACE-LIFT!

Coors is taking another shot with its oft-befuddled Killian’s Irish Red. The brand, a kind of Irish-derived mainstream super-premium along the lines of Michelob, has seen sales drop and excitement ebb since its heyday in the mid-1990s.

Things have gotten so bad, according to Coors representatives, that the company plans to “reintroduce” beer drinks to the brand, which, despite its Irish orientation, is produced largely in the Coors factory in Golden, Colo.

Killian’s, which still receives a fair amount of advertising support, has been caught in a slipstream between increasing craft and import consumption – a place it once occupied before getting crowded out by a more refined market – and declining returns for almost all massproduced domestic beer brands.

But one idea, according to an interview Coors Spokeswoman Aimee Valdez had with the Denver Post, is to sharpen the brand’s image as a lighter but still prestigious trade-up.

May we suggest calling it a “Wild Irish Rosè?”

DON’T DEW IT ANY MORE

Get ready for a new marketing push from stalwart citrus CSD Mountain Dew.

After 13 years, “Do the Dew,” a central theme to ads that featured biking, skiing, and more extreme sports, is being given its walking papers, reports Brandweek. The new plan will focus on “fueling the core.”

With energy drinks and other products moving into the extreme space once held by Mountain Dew – still one of the few CSD’s to show continued sales growth in what are tough times for top brands all around – parent company PepsiCo is turning to its ad agencies to come up with a new answer.

It also looks like the fizz is leaving the energy soda business. PepsiCo has decided to move the emphasis on its Mountain Dew offshoot MDX to market it as a CSD infused with energy, rather than as an energy soda. The company plans to run ads with a tag line of “Stay Sharp.” Which is not, we believe, a reference to the distinctions the company is drawing with regard to these particular marketing approaches.

HOLIDAY READING

The time has come again… for those employees you’ve ignored for so long, the ones who won’t get a Christmas bonus, or just for those who you’re pretty sure actually read stuff…or for those bosses for whom you don’t want to get anything more expensive than a book… we’ve got the answer.

Amibitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
By Maureen Ogle
$25.00

This is the story of the growth of the giant companies on the American beer landscape – as well as the families that grew them, families like the Busch and Schlitz clans. It’s also the story of how immigrant Germans began to succeed in America by moving the country’s taste from Englishstyle brews to the bitter British pilsner. Most of all, though, it’s a story about beer, and that makes for a delicious read.

Brewing up a Business
Sam Calagione
$16.95

Subtitled Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, this is more than just the story of the highly-regarded craft beer, and the crazy adventures of Calagione, who gets himself into more than one dangerous situation in the wilds of Delaware and Philadelphia, it’s also an apocryphal field manual on how good ideas can be turned into money-making businesses through hard work and creative thinking. Which is what we’d all like to do.

And for the ones who can’t make it through a whole book…

CocktailSmarts
$24.95

Edited by Charles Hardwick, a veteran New York City bartender, CocktailSmarts is a board game that features question and answer cards, coasters with recipes, a cocktail tips guide and a score sheet for competitive cocktail lovers. Competitors can pick a card and discover: What’s Triple Sec? What country did gin come from? What’s in a White Lady? What’s the primary alcohol in a Bronx Cocktail?

CocktailSmarts is created by SmartsCo, a San Francisco-based publisher that is also the creator of the top-selling WineSmarts, which star chef Mario Batali called “the greatest game ever!”

WHO’S THAT HANDSOME FELLOW WITH THE SECRETARY OF STATE?

Why, it’s Sambazon’s own Ryan Black, accepting the Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence. Sambazon received the annual award for its efforts to promote sustainable development in the Brazilian Rainforest, while improving conditions of the indigenous population of the Rainforest by marketing the açai berry.

EXECUTIVE MOVES

Constellation Brands, Inc. announced that Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tom Summer plans to retire from his position in May 15, 2007.

Brad Redenius, general manager of Judge & Dolph distributors in Peoria, IL has been promoted to Vice President, General Sales Manager of Griggs, Cooper & Company. Both are part of the Wirtz Beverage Group.

The American Beverage Association elected John E. (Jack) Pelo, president and chief executive officer of Swire Coca-Cola, USA, as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Other ABA officers elected were Dawn Hudson, President of Pepsi-Cola North America, as Vice Chair, and Larry Young, President and CEO of Cadbury Schweppes Bottling Group, as Treasurer.

Castle Brands Inc., promoted Robert A. Battipaglia to Vice President Sales – Eastern Region.

The p.i.n.k. Spirits Company has named veteran distilled spirits executive Lonnie Charleson as Executive Vice President, Sales.

Pernod Ricard USA appointed David Jackson as Vice President, Distribution Strategy.

August A. Busch IV was named President and CEO of the Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc. effective Dec. 1, 2006.

Centerra Wine Company announced the appointment of Oren Lewin to the position of Senior Vice President of Marketing for premium wines.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) announced that Betty Buck, president and owner of Buck Distributing Co. Inc. in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, will be its 2006-2007 Chairman of the Board. Buck is the first female to hold the prestigious post of NBWA Chair. Aldo Madrigrano, president of W.O.W. Distributing Co. Inc. in Sussex, Wisconsin, was named Vice Chair.

FRESH START AT JANA

The picture is getting a bit clearer now for the direction of the high-end Croatian water brand Jana.

Responsibility for importing the finely-balanced – but struggling – artesian water, bottled and sourced at an eponymous spring along the so-called “Balkan Riviera,” has been assumed by Jana North America, a new company owned by the brand’s Croatian parent, Agrokor.

Jana, long a dominant brand in its home country, has spent the past two years struggling to gain shelf space alongside other elite water brands like Voss, Evian and Fiji in the New York market, according to Momir Stojnovic, the vice president at Jana North America. Without New York, plans for national expansion were also in trouble. But all that has changed now, according to company executives.

“We’re excited that Agrokor has decided to invest and create the company,” Stojnovic said. “They’ve been in the water business for 175 years, and they’re making the effort themselves because they didn’t want to subcontract out. They wanted to control their own destiny and really start bringing it into this country.”

Jana North America took over from Creative Enterprises, which had the importation rights to Jana and also marketed Jana Skinny Water – a Super Citrimax-enhanced appetite suppressant product – made with Jana water. Creative, run by Michael Salaman, has left New York City for Pennsylvania, where it will concentrate on finding a domestic source for its product.

“The focus of our company is Skinny Water,” Salaman said. “There really were two products, and we were just too de-focused to do them both.”

SCANDAL IN LATROBE

LeNature’s Closure Tells Sordid Tale

It didn’t quite have the sturm und drang of Gomorrah, but there were, nevertheless, plenty of biblical references contained within the sudden implosion of Pittsburgh-area water company LeNature’s, Inc.

In late November, the company laid off 238 workers and stopped producing its water, tea, and juice lines, apparently in anticipation of a final liquidation. A guardian from Kroll Zolfo Cooper LLC, a crisis management and turnaround firm appointed to manage LeNature’s, was not holding out hope for its survival.

The fast demise of the company, which had recently leased a massive secondary bottling facility in downtown Phoenix, began with revelations made during investor lawsuits over owner Greg Podlucky’s unwillingness to sell the business to larger companies.

It turned out that at least part of that reluctance was due to fears that purchase offers would invite scrutiny of the company’s financial records. Those records were shaky, indeed.

LeNature’s self-reported fast growth had made it a juicy takeover target; unfortunately, that growth was also just plain made up, according to investigators. What had been reported sales of $275 million in 2005 turned out to be closer to $20 million, while the company had accrued $728 million in debt, according to filings from Kroll Zolfo.

During late October, the company’s Latrobe, PA facility was shuttered to its executives as part of the dispute. Podlucky and his officers, including several other family members, were locked out. But with the clock ticking on the arrival of the Kroll Zolfo custodian appointed to handle the business in their absence, Podlucky started destroying court-protected evidentiary financial records, according to affidavits filed in the case.

Employees reported seeing the shredding of dump trucks’ worth of documents, and Podlucky and his bodyguard running back and forth to the shredder with even more documents.

But the really damning finds came when federal investigators opened up a secret room in the Latrobe plant, turning up safes filled with gemstones and watches, according to bankruptcy records. The postal service has now added an investigative team on-site at LeNature’s, searching for evidence of mail and wire fraud. As authorities and investors trace the money, they can’t help but wonder how much of it ended up in Podlucky’s massive, still-under-construction home in exclusive Ligonier Township, one that was designed to include a hockey rink, swimming pool and 5-car garage. Podlucky, a devout Christian, had also filed plans to build a $20 million church near the plant.

As of Dec. 1, Podlucky had not responded to media calls for comment, and the state of Pennsylvania was preparing to help retrain laid off workers.