Cheerwine Partners With Pepsi Beverage Co.

Brand doubles its availability by expanding with the Pepsi Beverages Co. into Florida, Atlanta and Memphis.

Legendary southern soft drink Cheerwine has taken a game changing leap forward in its quest to become available nationally, doubling its market size by partnering with Pepsi Beverages Co. (PBC) to expand distribution in Florida, Atlanta and Memphis.

The independent 94-year-old North Carolina company, still held and managed by the family of the founder, continues to build on its vision to become available nationwide in time for its 100th anniversary in 2017.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have a best-in-class distribution partner in the Pepsi Beverages Co.,” said Cliff Ritchie, CEO and great-grandson of founder L.D. Peeler. “When you boil it down there just isn’t anything like Cheerwine in the soft drink world, so we feel it’s an ideal time to expand, and we’re fortunate to be doing it with a world class partner. We’re in the business of putting smiles on peoples’ lips and we’re very happy to be able to extend our distribution to do just that.”

Cheerwine is famed throughout the South for its unique “flavor that always surprises” and its focus on heritage, family and independence. The distribution partnership, that will see Cheerwine’s core distribution market nearly double in size, will initially launch with Cheerwine glass bottles with real cane sugar (The Original 1917 formula) and 12-pack Cheerwine cans in Florida, Atlanta and Memphis, on shelves wherever Pepsi is sold.

This expansion, which follows partnering with PBC earlier this year in Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tenn., allows loyal and passionate Cheerwine fans to have access for the first time to the once-regional soft drink. The population of Florida, Atlanta and Memphis is approximately 26 million people. This represents nearly a twofold increase in population over Cheerwine’s current area of distribution—illustrating the company’s commitment to expand outward geographically from its core, keeping the focus of the expansion on bringing Cheerwine to its most ardent enthusiasts. Cheerwine also has existing Pepsi partnerships with Pepsi of Central Virginia, Pepsi Bottling Ventures based in Raleigh and Pepsi of Roxboro, N.C.

“Cheerwine has some of the most devoted fans of any brand I’ve ever seen, and they are going to be the key to pull us across the United States,” says Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing & sales for Cheerwine. “We are a small company rooted in family values, and our size allows us to listen closely to what people are saying and act on those needs. We plan to use social media as a tool to identify advocates across the U.S. and enlist them in a real way to help us make our lofty goal a reality.”

Cheerwine’s expansion into new markets is just the beginning. In the fourth quarter of 2011, the company will kick-off several initiatives to further its expansion goals and continue spreading the cheer. These initiatives include a package redesign, to ensure Cheerwine continues to look as good as it tastes; the new packaging will feature bolder visuals, including the new logo that incorporates the word “Legend.”

In addition, the 12-pack cartons will dedicate one panel to media by literally carrying the Cheerwine billboard ads on one side. To kick off its arrival in new markets, Cheerwine will reach fans via Facebook and host extensive sampling events in Florida, Atlanta and Memphis, along with appearances by Miss Cheerwine—who traveled the South this summer on the Miss Cheerwine Summer Legend Tour—distributing samples and meeting fans in the new markets.

“In addition to a great distribution partner in Pepsi Beverages Co. our sales team has done an outstanding job of cultivating great relationships with local Pepsi field and headquarters management teams,” Barbitta said. “Other Cheerwine partners who contributed significantly to our success include Ms. Kate Newlin, author of Passion Brands, and consumer brand strategist, Woods Witt Dealy & Sons and The Thomas Collective of New York, the creative and PR agencies behind the Legend campaign, and internationally recognized Tim Girvin, Principal of Girvin Design based in Seattle for package design.”




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