Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lucozade: An energetic history

When a Geordie chemist concocted a wonder tonic in 1927 for use in hospitals, he could never have guessed it would evolve into a vibrant energy drink marketed for general consumption, regardless of whether or not you have a sniffle. Originally called Glucozade, the G was soon dropped to create a product that at least sounded a little less sugary, and which became a household name over the years. The ever-popular Lucozade is now available in many varieties and enjoyed by the unwell and healthy alike.

For decades the packaging was made of glass with a cellophane wrapper, until in 1983, when it was replaced by something incredibly futuristic: polyethylene terephthalate (a plastic bottle, to you and me). It was at this time that the brand rapidly moved its associations away from stethoscopes and bedpans and toward liquid power. This was essential for Lucozade’s identity and sales development, as it opened up the market to people in need of invigoration for whatever the reason, not just due to illness. The old notion of a sickly child in striped pyjamas being given a small glass of fizzy goodness that ‘aids recovery’ (above) was replaced by Daley Thompson and traffic light symbolism. Another advert featuring the Olympic champion decathlete saw him distracting fellow sportsmen by noisily opening his beverage at different tournaments (below). In this swift movement from the sickbed to the running track, Lucozade was reborn as a beverage that ‘Replaces lost energy’.

As the years went by, the brand developed the concept of positive energy. One particularly lively advert portrayed Lucozade causing a Mexican wave of almost superhuman abilities, all taking place within forty seconds. Now if that don’t promote positive energy, there ain’t nothing that will!

The late nineties presented us with a gang of keyed up Mods waiting for their lazy friend, who overcomes his tiredness through a few swigs from a familiar bottle before joining them with his magnificent Vespa. The most memorable part was his mum ruining his street cred by shouting “Jimmy, you forgot your sandwiches” from the balcony. Fast approaching the millennium, the closing message explained that Lucozade was and always had been ‘The original solution’.

A few years later we were treated to Lara Croft, everyone’s favourite Tomb Raider, escaping a bald-headed, tattooed villain with a chainsaw and attack dogs. Just as she’s about to be torn to pieces, the game is paused and the player pops out of the room. Whilst left alone, the CGI characters take a breather and enjoy a glug of Lucozade from Lara’s satchel. ‘The refreshing pause’ was the strapline that spoke to and engaged all those young people out there in need of a pick-me-up during endless gaming sessions.

One of my personal favourites, simply due to its randomness and two-dimensional sixties jazz-style animation, is one known as The Music Factory (below). Demoralised office workers flop their heads in unison to the daily grind until a cuckoo escapes from its clock and invigorates the workplace. And what better way to sum up such a madcap advert for an energy drink than with the simple, affirmative and compelling slogan 'Move it'.

Recently we’ve had far less surreal messages from Lucozade, such as extreme sports enthusiasts leaving jet streams of orange bubbles in their wake, inspiring you to ‘Do more’; and the poster for Lucozade Blackcurrant shows a happy hippie proudly displaying her purple tongue, ‘Energy in a different flavour’ providing a no-nonsense summary of the brand’s latest offering. At this moment in time, Lucozade’s new campaign employs a single word to sum up their entire ethos: ‘Yes’.

Despite these diverse advertising styles, and even a major change in the brand’s unique selling point, the fundamental promise communicated from company to consumer has remained unchanged: Lucozade gives you that oomph you need to get the most out of your day. 

So whether you’re a buyer of good old-fashioned Lucozade Energy; a dedicated athlete that requires Lucozade Sport with Caffeine Boost; need to watch your sugar intake and choose Lucozade Light; or fancy an immediate burst from Lucozade Alert Plus (the ‘two-calorie wake-up call’); slipping down your throat is a restorative mixture that’s remained popular for over eighty years and must surely have an exciting advertising story ahead of it. I’ll drink to that!

eskimosoup is:
A Hull Graphic Design Agency

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