CAMPAIGNS: Tight-lipped Vimto makes public move - Consumer PR

Client: Vimto Soft Drinks
PR Team: Communique PR
Campaign: Vimto brand
Timescale: 29 March - 1 April 1999
Budget: pounds 1,500

Client: Vimto Soft Drinks

PR Team: Communique PR

Campaign: Vimto brand

Timescale: 29 March - 1 April 1999

Budget: pounds 1,500

Vimto was invented in 1908 by Noel Nichols. The exact recipe for the

soft drink has been kept under wraps ever since and this secrecy is a

key element in marketing the brand.

It is claimed that only two people know the precise ingredients: one is

Nichols’ grandson, John Nichols, now group managing director of Vimto

Soft Drinks, which encompasses Vimto, an energy drink called Indigo and

the franchise for Sunkist, and the company refuses to disclose the

identity of the other.


To raise awareness of the Vimto brand through the national, regional

media and trade press as the company moved sites.


There were two prongs to Communique’s campaign. The first was to play on

the secrecy of the 91-year-old Vimto recipe, responsible for producing

the drink’s ’unique taste’, in order to grab general media coverage. The

second was to publicise the fact that Vimto Soft Drinks was moving its

three manufacturing sites in Wythenshaw, Manchester, into a

purpose-built base in Wigan. The straight investment story was targeted

at the business media and trade press.

A stunt was planned for 30 March to highlight both the office move and

the lengths to which Vimto Soft Drinks would go to keep Vimto’s recipe

under lock and key.

The Manchester-based PR agency drafted a press release and contacted

national and local press, radio and television stations to inform them

of the publicity event and to invite them along to witness it, at either

the old or new Vimto site.

On the day, John Nichols, flanked by security guards from security firm

Securitas, left his Wythenshaw office clutching a Vimto-branded

briefcase containing the secret recipe. Nichols placed the case in a

Securitas van and jumped in an accompanying car. Police motorbikes

headed the convoy, escorting the van out of Wythenshaw and ensuring its

safe arrival at the new site. At Wigan, Nichols was again guarded as he

supervised the transfer of the recipe to a secret location in the new


The following day, Communique mailed a raft of post-event press releases

and dealt with around 10 to 15 calls from members of the media who did

not attend the event but wanted information on it.

Measurement and Evaluation

The Daily Telegraph, the Mirror and the Sun, plus a raft of regional

newspapers, ran the story. Thirty news items were recorded on local

radio stations and BBC Radio 1, BBC 5 Live and Greater Manchester Radio

all provided coverage.

The stunt sparked a wider debate on the issue of patenting soft drinks,

and ten interviews with Nichols were requested on this subject and Vimto

business in general.


Considering that Vimto’s secret recipe has been an integral part of the

brand’s image for decades, Communique did well to get the media excited

about an old story and on such a modest budget.

Hooking this up with the move to newer, bigger premises meant Nichols

was able to discuss both the drink’s past and investments for the future

with much wider coverage than a straight business story.

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