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From Uncool to Uncola – The Fabulous Psychedelic 7-Up Ads 1969-1973

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7-UP Uncola

‘Un & Un is Too’ by Kim Whitesides in 1969

No one really knows where the name 7-Up really comes from although we do know that it was invented in 1929 by Charles Leiper Grigg. In 1920 Grigg had already invented an orange carbonated drink called Howdy but it had never been as successful as he hoped mostly due to popular and dominating market leader Orange Crush. So Grigg searched around for a different kind of soda one without an obvious rival and after two years of experimenting came up with a lemon-lime flavoured drink. Despite being given the rather long-winded name of Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime soda the soda started selling well.

The ”Bib-Label” part of the moniker referred to the paper labels on the bottle, while the “Lithiated” bit, referred to the Lithium Citrate that Grigg hoped would make the drink seem more healthy. Lithium affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body and is used today to treat the manic episodes of manic depression.

Grigg sensibly abandoned the original name of his popular soft drink and after a few pared it down to 7 UP. It was never completely clear what the name referred to but despite the company’s secrecy over the matter there isn’t a good reason to think that it’s not named after the drink’s seven ingredients. An original tagline went: “Seven natural flavors blended into a savory, flavory drink with a real wallop.” One of those ingredients, of course, was lithium and that might have been the ‘Up’ bit in the name.

The US Government banned lithium’s use in foodstuffs in 1948 and, presumably with a licence to delay, 7 Up stopped including lithium citrate in its recipe two years later. No one seemed to notice the lack of the mood-stabilising ingredient and by now 7UP was the third best-selling soft drink in the world.

Many of the images can be seen here by btreat on flickr. Some of these incredible ads are available there for rent and for sale.

7UP  Uncola

7UP ads were very family friendly in the 1950s, this ad from 1952.

7-UP Uncola

Ad from 1963. 7-Up’s demographic was becoming older in the sixties. The company aimed ads to teenagers but to no avail.

 

Almost twenty years after the mood-altering drug was removed from the ingredient list the Seven-Up Company introduced the slightly counter-culture influenced UNCOLA advertising campaign. Possibly because the drink was considered by youngsters as distinctly uncool and a drink imbibed mostly by the older generation (despite the desperate attempt by 7-Up to use teenagers in their early sixties ads). 7UP’s tagline had long been: “You Like It; It Likes You”, and many presumed because it was less gassy or stomach-upsetting than the cola drinks.

The UNCOLA campaign changed everything and the ads seemed to say: ‘This is a drink that is definitely not Cola and we are different and we are proud of the difference’. Within a few months the ads sent 7UP sales rocketing.

 

'Un In The Sun' By Pat Dypold, 1969.

‘Un In The Sun’ By Pat Dypold, 1969.

7-UP Uncola

“UnCanny In Cans” by John Alcorn, 1969.

 

7-UP Uncola

“The Light Shining Over The Dark” by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Like No Cola Can’ – Milton Glaser, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Un For The Good Old Summer Time’ by Barry Zaid, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

Don’t Be The Last To UnCola by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Butterfly & Bottle’ by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Buy a Merry Can’ Jacqui Morgan, 1970.

 

'See The Light' by Bill Bosworth, 1973.

‘See The Light’ by Bill Bosworth, 1973.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Money-Back Bottles Make Cents’ by Skip Willliamson

 

1971 7Up Un With The Show Ray Lyle

‘Un With The Show’ by Ray Lyle, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘The Order of the Day’ by Simms Taback, 1971.

1970 7UP Wet Un Wild Ed George

‘Wet Un Wild’ by Ed George, 1970.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘The Youth Fare’ by Ed George 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Un Un and Away’ by Ed George, 1970.

7-UP Uncola

‘Visit Un City’ by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

1971 7Up UnCover Summer Pat Dypold

‘Uncover Summer’ by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Dog’s Best Friend’ by Bob Taylor, 1972.

7-UP Uncola

‘Hear No Cola, See No Cola, Drink Uncola’ by Nancy Martell, 1970.

 

7-UP Uncola

‘Matisse’ by Pat Dypold, 1971.

 

Many of the images can be seen here by btreat on flickr. Some of these incredible ads are available there for rent and for sale.

  • NGO

    Great campaign, great images.

  • btreat

    I’m surprised and disappointed that 21 of my images (all rights retained) are used in this post without a single attribution. The originals can be found here:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/30559980@N07/sets/72157623502964435/

  • GateKeeper

    Was Robert Crumb involved with the 1969 7UP “THE UNCOLA UNDERGROUND MEMBERSHIP KIT”?