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Sixty Years of Sprite®

How the lemon-lime soda became so cool — and stays that way

The beverage for hip, adventurous, and athletic types? The drink on the cutting edge, where hip-hop music, basketball, and hip-hop culture intersect? The soda that says "I've arrived?" Sprite® has it covered. And this harbinger of cool turns 60 next year.

Today, it's hard to imagine a grocery store or convenience store without Sprite on the shelves, but for years, the only lemon-lime soft drink on the market was 7-Up. In 1956, a team at The Coca-Cola Company developed a tart, clear-colored carbonated drink and the competition was on. Marketed initially as both a carbonated beverage and a drink mixer, Sprite was tested in various markets throughout the United States, launching nationally in 1961 to rave reviews. Today, the lemon-lime flavored soft drink is sold in 190 countries and ranks as the third-best selling soda worldwide and The Coca-Cola Company's No. 2 brand, behind only Coke®.

Offically Awesome
With the launch of a new advertising campaign, "Obey Your Thirst," in 1994 and rising popularity among pro athletes, hip-hop artists, and fans of each, Sprite became a beloved brand that represents youth and the cool factor.

"It goes back to the characteristics of the product," James Cuthbert, brand manager for Sprite, explains, "Sprite is clear, caffeine free, all-natural flavors. 'Obey Your Thirst' was all about being true to yourself, and there was no better example than hip-hop culture. And that is why we stood unapologetically with the truest part of hip-hop. The idea that a brand could help give a broader and authentic voice to an emerging culture was, and still is, powerful."

Variety Is the Spice of Sprite
In the decades after its launch, global demand for Sprite grew, prompting the Sprite brand to leverage the opportunity for continual evolution. As such, innovative flavors were strategically introduced. Some of the highlights:

  • Sprite Zero launches in Greece in 2002 (and in the United States shortly after)
  • Sprite Ice, which has a hint of mint, blows onto the scene in Italy, Canada, Belgium, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Thailand in 2003 and 2004.
  • Sprite on Fire, which features a burning ginger sensation, heats up the market in Hong Kong in 2003.
  • Sprite Remix, which offers tropical flavors, rushes into the United States in 2003.
  • Flavor Hits, with a hint of grape, cherry or mixed berry, are introduced in 2004.
  • Sprite 3G, an energy drink with glucose, guarana and caffeine, launches in Great Britain in 2006.

Recently, there have been two definitive modern-day brand moments for the Sprite brand. The first occurred in 2014, when mega star LeBron James created his own limited-edition Sprite soda—then called Sprite 6 Mix, later repackaged and renamed LeBron's Mix. The endorsement ushered in a new legion of Sprite fans and helped push Sprite to yet another pinnacle of cool. The second occurred with the critically acclaimed launch of the Obey Your Verse collectors' series. Sixteen limited-edition cans displaying lyrics from hip-hop legends Drake, Nas, Rakim and Notorious B.I.G were launched across the United States.

Today, Sprite is among the top consumer soft drinks in the world, appealing to people of all ages. Whether you enjoy a limited-edition LeBron's Mix or collect the Obey Your Verse cans, you'll find these light, refreshing soft drinks almost anywhere in the world — signaling the universal appeal for the crisp, refreshing taste of Sprite.

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Published: July 28, 2015