Schweppes : Branding breakdown

A global gateway reveals a troubled organisational soul.

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The Site

Schweppes, the US-owned global soft drinks brand, directs consumers to local sites from a portal-page map that reflects its fragmented structure. The Schweppes dotcom site is a portal to country brand sites and presents visitors with a world map and invites them to select a region from the seven marked on the map. Clicking on five of them – Asia pacific, Australia, Africa, Middle East and South America – triggers a ‘No local site available’ message. Selecting Europe displays a pop-up table of 40 countries, although a further clicking on many of them (including Turkey and United Kingdom) yields the ‘No local site available’ message. North America shows viable options for Canada and the US. A Quick Launch dropdown menu in the bottom right of the map presents a list of 19 European countries, the first of which, Albania, returns the ‘no site’ message. Several others (for example, Belgium) link not directly to the country site but to a Schweppes Europe site (which is not in the portal-page list), from where another dropdown offers links to individual countries. The list also includes an Other Countries option that leads back to the portal page.

The Takeaway

The global portal page is arguably the most prominent part of the brand’s web presence, being the top result for ‘schweppes’ in all major search engines. As such it is the first route through which large numbers of consumers will try to access local sites, so the map tool is an obvious and appropriate way to channel them. However, while it looks to be set up for the task, for many it will produce a frustrating experience. The underlying problem reflects – and almost certainly is caused by – the complexity of the brand’s worldwide estate. Behind a uniform universal identity lies a network of production companies that includes The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico and Swire Pacific Ltd (China), all licensed by the US owner, Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Not all have a web presence, but not all those that do can be reached via the portal, which will inevitably have an adverse effect on traffic to their sites. The muddled estate is mirrored in an incoherent and, for many, unusable web presence that tarnishes the brand image. The estate and all its stakeholders would benefit immensely from a fully functional portal system that cleanly distributes traffic to the licensee sites. Where the responsibility for coordinating the careful and collaborative effort needed to bring this about lies is one thing the map does not reveal.
First published 27 October, 2011
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