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.