In a partnership befitting the term “alternative pop,” Fentimans has aligned itself with Cherrytree Records, a Los Angeles-based music label, to create a new cherry cola for its line of premium fermented sodas. The product, Cherrytree Cola, will launch in parts of the Midwestern U.S. and Canada this week culminating in a heavily promoted bottle signing by LMFAO – an electronic hip-hop group signed to Cherrytree Records – at a Whole Foods market in Vancouver.
The genesis of Cherrytree Cola was a phone call in the fall of 2010 from Martin Kierszenbaum, the CEO of Cherrytree Records, to Craig James, the CEO of Fentimans North America.
Kierszenbaum explained that he enjoyed Fentimans’ Curiosity Cola and wanted to establish a relationship with Fentimans that would help promote both the brand and Cherrytree artists. After discussing a number of ideas for cross-promotion, James noted that Fentimans had created a formula for a cherry cola several years ago, but never mass-produced the beverage.
Considering the name of the record label, the notion of a cherry-flavored beverage seemed like an ideal conduit to introduce Fentimans to youthful fans of Cherrytree artists. In return, Fentimans would pay Kierszenbaum a fee for each case of Cherrytree Cola sold as well as participate in sponsorship of Cherrytree Records events and tours.
“We’re not just trying to sell cherry cola,” James said. “We’re willing to cut our margin on one item to create more brand awareness for Fentimans and have consumers try all of our products.”
James ran a test batch of Cherrytree Cola in February, and a design for the product’s label – featuring the Cherrytree Records logo and website address – was created soon after. The cola was initially sampled at the 2011 Natural Foods Expo West show in March and received positive reviews for its look and flavor. Around the same time, Cherrytree Records began filming music videos for their artists that included product placement of Cherrytree Cola, the most notable of which was for LMFAO’s hit song, “Party Rock Anthem.” The video has been viewed over 195 million times on YouTube.
“This opportunity is a gift,” James said. “We’re an emerging brand working with emerging artists. We’ll continue to check off opportunities where is there is some synergy for both Fentimans and Cherrytree Records.”
Cherrytree Cola comes in Fentimans’ proprietary glass bottle and will be line priced at around $1.99 for a single bottle and between $5.99–7.99 for a 4-pack. Fentimans produced a first run of 2000 cases and most Fentimans distributors including UNFI and KeHe have picked up the new product. However, James said that further production and distribution would be based on the how well the product performs during its launch. Based on the number of impressions that Cherrytree Cola received just from the “Party Rock Anthem” video, James was cautiously optimistic.
“This is a unique way to market our brand,” James said. “Though the part of this that is most interesting is [the question of], ‘Will this work?’ Once the cola gets on the shelves, will be people be drawn to it?”