Part II: A Coca-Cola Product Revived!

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!

About SURGE

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. 

Surge front
“SURGE front” by Magnus Kolstad is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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.

SURGE Movement Admins Sean, Evan, and Matt.  Photo Courtesy of SURGE Movement

“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. 

Sample social media campaign encouraging calls to Coca-Cola.  Photo Courtesy of SURGE Movement

“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.

Larger Campaigns

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.

Billboard

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 near Coca-Cola Headquarters.  Photo Courtesy SURGE Movement

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.

Photo showing the SURGE Movement made the front page of BuzzFeed.  Photo Courtesy SURGE Movement.

Would all of these efforts eventually pay off?  Of course!  (This blog series is all about product comeback success stories!)

What’s next?

Read more about what happened next in Part III.

If you aren’t yet following our cause, be sure to follow us on Facebook!

Part I: Product Comeback Stories!

We’re here to Save TaB!   If you’re reading this, you may be wondering “how likely is it that Coca-Cola will change its mind and bring it back; what are our chances of saving it?”  You’re not alone—we wonder that too.

And while we can’t know for sure—we do know that many companies have brought previously discontinued products back due to consumer demand.  This blog post is part one of a three-part series all about products that made a comeback!

This first article introduces a handful of products that have made a comeback!  Let them serve as inspiration for our cause 🙂

Onto the comeback stories:

The McRib Sandwich:

McRib
“McRib” by Ruocaled is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of McDonald’s most interesting menu items, the McRib, is a boneless pork sandwich slathered in barbecue sauce and topped with pickle and onion on an obolong bun. It was introduced in 1981 and discontinued in 1985. It was then brought back due to consumer demand–but eventually removed from the menu altogether once more. 

But consumers wouldn’t have it! Now it’s regularly brought back on a limited time basis in select restaurants—and consumers wait all year for the announcement to get their McRib value meal. 

Necco Wafers:

Necco Wafers Still Exist! A USA Classic Candy from my Childhood at Michaels!
“Necco Wafers Still Exist! A USA Classic Candy from my Childhood at Michaels!” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The disc-shaped candies wrapped in waxed paper were discontinued when the factory that produced them went out of business in 2018.  (If you’ve ever tried a conversation heart around Valentine’s day–you know what these taste like, because they’re made by the same company).

Nearly two years later, the candies were brought back into production by the firm that purchased the intellectual property.  Now consumers everywhere can get their old-timey candy fix with the re-released Necco wafers.  The candy that lived from 1847-2018 gets a second chance in the spotlight!

Crystal Pepsi:

Crystal Pepsi
“Crystal Pepsi” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pepsi introduced Crystal Pepsi during the 1990s when ‘clear’ meant healthy in consumers’ eyes.  Taking the caramel color out of regular Pepsi seemed like a no-brainer for the company to sell more sodas and gain market share from their competitors.  Unfortunately, consumers didn’t really fall in love with the clear cola, and it was discontinued.  It was brought back for nostalgia reasons (or as Pepsi called it “overwhelming fan demand”) for a short time in 2016 for consumers to get another taste!  We’ll see if this one comes back again, or if soda fans have had enough!

Cheez Balls and Cheez Curls:

Planters.com

These iconic 1990s snacks were off store shelves for 12 years until being brought back into the spotlight by the Kraft-Heinz company in 2018 for a “limited time only.”   As recent as today—they’re still for sale on Amazon! Three years is a long “limited time,” let’s hope they keep them around for the consumers who love the products!

Surge:

“Surge” by Like_the_Grand_Canyon is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This is our favorite comeback story, and the most relevant for TaB drinkers!  Coca-Cola’s soda designed to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew was released in 1997.  The “Mountain Dew Killer” in all its green glory was available in stores nationwide until its discontinuation in 2003.  During those six years, it acquired a fanbase unlike many other sodas (with loyalty similar to us TaBaholics!)  And the Surge drinkers weren’t prepared to let it disappear without a fight.   Our next blog post is about the fanbase who worked together to save Surge from the history books….

Continue to Part II….

Sources:

Tomorrow, Join us at Our “Meet Up With Fellow TaB Lovers”

As previously communicated, we are scheduling a virtual social event! You have ONE day to RSVP!

Who: Anyone who loves TaB and wants to meet other TaB lovers.

What: Fun TaB Happy Hour

When: Friday, August 13th from 7-9 PM EDT. Join when you can, leave when you need to!

Where: It will be a virtual event–RSVP On Facebook to get the login information.

Why: It’s just for fun! But we also want to keep our group engaged in our quest to SaveTaBSoda!

Two Days Until “Meet Up With Fellow TaB Lovers”

As previously communicated, we are scheduling a virtual social event! You have two days to RSVP!

Who: Anyone who loves TaB and wants to meet other TaB lovers.

What: Fun TaB Happy Hour

When: Friday, August 13th from 7-9 PM EDT. Join when you can, leave when you need to!

Where: It will be a virtual event–RSVP On Facebook to get the login information.

Why: It’s just for fun! But we also want to keep our group engaged in our quest to SaveTaBSoda!

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to wear your favorite TaB apparel (if you have any) and if you have any TaB collectibles–make sure you have them close by for a TaB Show and Tell 🙂

Thank You for Contacting McDonald’s and Wal-Mart AND One More Step…

Thank You

Thanks to everyone who contacted Wal-Mart and McDonald’s on behalf of the greater TaB-drinking community!

We received many e-mails from TaB drinkers who confirmed they contacted both entities, and we saw a lot of activity indicating participation from those on Facebook as well!

So far, we’ve received a few responses back from McDonald’s–nothing committing to bringing TaB back–but nothing saying “no” either! So far, no response from Wal-Mart–but it’s early.

Next Steps

(Action Item) If you receive a response from either company–keep in mind it is likely going to be a canned response that comes from a front-line employee. To be sure someone heard you–reply back and ask them to escalate your request to a supervisor or manager. Make sure they know you’re serious about your request, and how adding TaB to their product lineup will benefit them as well!

If you receive an interesting response, please be sure to let us know!

If you haven’t–don’t forget to like us on Facebook! And stay tuned for additional activities and events from the SaveTaBSoda Committee.

Missed the Event?

Did you miss our event on 8/6? It’s never too late to join in our efforts. It’s going to take all of us to make a difference. If you would like to help, the instructions to contact McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are here.

This Friday: “Meet Up With Fellow TaB Lovers”

As previously communicated, we are scheduling a virtual social event!

Who: Anyone who loves TaB and wants to meet other TaB lovers.

What: Fun TaB Happy Hour

When: Friday, August 13th from 7-9 PM EDT. Join when you can, leave when you need to!

Where: It will be a virtual event–RSVP On Facebook to get the login information.

Why: It’s just for fun! But we also want to keep our group engaged in our quest to SaveTaBSoda!

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to wear your favorite TaB apparel (if you have any) and if you have any TaB collectibles–make sure you have them close by for a TaB Show and Tell 🙂

TODAY IS THE DAY! – Contact McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Now!

As we previously communicated, we are planning a targeted consumer contact event–only this time we’re not contacting Coca-Cola, we’re contacting McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. And TODAY IS THE DAY!

The instructions are below:

  • McDonald’s:   If you aren’t aware, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have a decades-long partnership.  Coca-Cola even has a McDonald’s division within their corporate structure—that’s how important it is to their business.  To Contact McDonald’s use their General Inquiry Form
  • Wal-Mart:  They are a national retailer, and they have been known to carry exclusive soda brands that benefit Wal-Mart and the Soda producers.  Being an exclusive retailer benefits Wal-Mart by getting customers into the store who normally may not shop there—to buy a product that’s not available anywhere else.  To Contact Wal-Mart use their Product Request Form. Note: you’ll need to know TaB’s UPC code: 049000001938

Detailed Instructions Below:

To Contact Wal-Mart:

Use their Product Request Form

  1. Select the “discontinued item/brand” option
  •  Fill in the product information (TaB’s UPC Number is: 049000001938 )

That’s it!  You should get an e-mail response in a couple of days.  Let us know what you hear!

To Contact McDonald’s:

Use their General Inquiry Form

  1.  Select “Menu Items & Nutrition.”
  2. Tell them what you think.  Should they carry TaB on fountain in all stores, to be available alongside a Filet-o-Fish?  Let them know!
  3. Expect to receive an e-mail back from them in a few days.  Let us know what you hear!

One Day until “Contact McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Day” (8/6)

As we previously communicated, we are planning a targeted consumer contact event–only this time we’re not contacting Coca-Cola, we’re contacting McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

Please spread the word far and wide, and convince as many as you can to join us in our efforts. We have only one more day to recruit more to help us!

RSVP to this event on Facebook, and share it with others who might join us.

NOTE: If you’re not on Facebook that is OK! Just continue to follow our blog–we’ll share the contact info for both companies on Friday!

Two Days until “Contact McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Day” (8/6)

As we previously communicated, we are planning a targeted consumer contact event–only this time we’re not contacting Coca-Cola, we’re contacting McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

Please spread the word far and wide, and convince as many as you can to join us in our efforts. We have only two days to recruit more to help us!

RSVP to this event on Facebook, and share it with others who might join us.

One Week until “Contact McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Day” (8/6)

As we previously communicated, we are planning a targeted consumer contact event–only this time we’re not contacting Coca-Cola, we’re contacting McDonald’s and Wal-Mart.

Please spread the word far and wide, and convince as many as you can to join us in our efforts.

We have one week to grow our numbers.

RSVP to this event on Facebook, and share it with others who might join us.