In our prior blog post, we shared a handful of success stories about products that were once discontinued, and subsequently brought back due to consumer demand.
We left off in the last post talking about SURGE—now let’s dig in to explore how this brand was brought back to life by a group of SURGE Super Fans!
Note: This blog post is made possible by collaboration with Evan Carr, Sean Sheridan, and Matt Winans—the founding members of the SURGE Movement. They love SURGE (and we love TaB). We have a lot in common–we’re united in our efforts to help Coca-Cola see the demand for our favorite sodas! We all want to see our sodas produced for many years into the future.
While this blog post is about another soda brand, we think the amazing efforts a group took to save a discontinued soda are very impressive–and we think TaB drinkers everywhere will be interested to think about this story in the context of what else we might do to save TaB!
SURGE was originally produced by Coca-Cola and available through its bottlers nationally from 1997-2003. It was competing directly with Mountain Dew and marketed to a young demographic—many of them still in middle and high school. SURGE was a green, ‘fully loaded citrus soda, with carbos.’ The bold blend of citrus flavors and maltodextrin, combined with low carbonation provided a bold, yet smooth taste. SURGE was synonymous with video games, MTV, and anything else related to the “extreme lifestyle” that was part of youth culture in the 1990s.
SURGE was there to “feed the rush.” Commercials at the time featured young SURGE drinkers participating in extreme races where they hurdled over couches, rolled down hills in barrels, scaled muddy hills (and other such activities), all to obtain the reward of a single SURGE soda at the end!
The young crowd who embraced SURGE happily made it a part of their lifestyle. It quickly became an important part of the lives of those who loved it.
As these young SURGE fans grew up and started heading off to College—Coca-Cola was already planning to phase SURGE out. SURGE was officially discontinued in 2003—a new soda called Vault was introduced in 2005 to fill that gap in their lineup. Coca-Cola was following the new energy drink craze—calling Vault an “Energy Soda.”
But the incredibly loyal SURGE fans (a whole generation who grew up drinking it) weren’t exactly finished with SURGE—it was taken from them against their wishes, by the Coca-Cola Company. And they wanted it back!
The SURGE Movement Begins!
Enter the SURGE Movement. It was founded by three SURGE Aficionados—Evan Carr, Sean Sheridan, and Matt Winans. As early as 2008, Matt had created an unofficial SURGE fan page on Facebook and had acquired around 8,000 followers. In 2011, Evan created the SURGE Movement page on Facebook and began gaining followers as well. Sean, another super fan, wanted to be a driving force in the movement to bring SURGE back into production. Matt, Evan and Sean combined their efforts and became the admins behind the SURGE Movement—working together to gain followers and amplify their voices.
“It was right before Christmas in 2011,” said Carr. “I was feeling reminiscent about SURGE and wanted to know who else felt the same way about it that I did…there weren’t any communities for the brand but I knew there were other fanatics out there just like me, so that’s when I decided to create the page.”
The Early Days
The SURGE Movement has undertaken many of the same tactics we’ve employed to Save TaB Soda! We’ve mailed Valentine’s Day cards, targeted a mass call Coke Day, and sent books and gifts to executives. (And of course, we have more events planned!)
The SURGE Movement had a handwritten letter-writing campaign with theme ‘All we want for Xmas is SURGE.’ “People had submitted creative drawings and custom-made cards,” said Winans. “It was really neat to see our members put that much effort into a single task.”
The Movement created ‘SURGE Coke’ days or ‘Surging’ days where the members would call the Coca-Cola consumer affairs hotline. They created Facebook posts that asked their fans to Call Coca-Cola en masse to request SURGE as a product.
“Our first organized ‘SURGE Coke’ day was on August 1, 2012,” said Sheridan. “We had been encouraging our members to call since the beginning…but after having it suggested to us, decided to organize a mass call-in day on the last Friday of every month until SURGE was brought back.”
After a few call-in days, the Consumer Affairs representatives caught on and began expecting the calls. “The responses have varied in enthusiasm, from exasperation over fielding thousands of calls to excitement and encouragement,” said Sheridan.
As the SURGE Movement grew in membership and participants, they took their efforts to the next level. With their community numbers now around 11,000 in mid-September of 2012, they began to poll the Movement on the next steps. “We needed to launch a fun project to engage our community’s participation,” said Winans.
The group decided a good use of their funds would be to erect a SURGE Movement billboard close to Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters. It would hopefully draw attention to their cause both from Coca-Cola officials, as well as local news media.
“We raised over $3000 and had the billboard displayed about a mile from Coke’s Headquarters in Atlanta, GA,” said Carr. “Had we not heard back from Coke, a bigger campaign was in the works for the $10,000 billboard much closer to the headquarters.”
Billboard-Start of Something Big
The billboard itself resulted in feature stories from many widely recognized news sites: CNN Money, Business Insider, Yahoo! News, and BuzzFeed.
Would all of these efforts eventually pay off? Of course! (This blog series is all about product comeback success stories!)
Read more about what happened next in Part III.
If you aren’t yet following our cause, be sure to follow us on Facebook!