There are many rumors floating around the internet
as to the origin of SURGE. This is a biography of the true story
of SURGE - past, present and future. SURGE began life as a multi-million
dollar project at Coca-Cola. The idea was to replace Coke's faltering
Mello Yello brand and to compete with Pepsi's Mountain Dew.
The criteria was to make a citrus soda that was
high in energy and easy to drink. So in late 1994 the project began.
During the next few months this new drink was formulated and reformulated
until the taste testers had narrowed it down to just two formulas.
was a green-ish highly caffeinated drink that borrowed many ingredients
and energy producing traits from Coke's PowerAID. The other lacked
the sophisticated glucose polymers of PowerAID and simply relied
on large amounts of caffeine. After many taste testing battles the
green drink survived and the other was put into the Coke vault.
But as we will see later it was given a new lease on life. As with
all new products Coke needed to test their new product dubbed "URGE"
(see right) and to be more secretive they decided to give the beverage
a test run in Norway. URGE was rolled out in early 1996.
It seemed Coke had hit the nail right on the head,
they received much praise for the product and decided that the United
States was ready for it within a year. Due to the fact that the
research involved in making URGE was so expensive, Coke wanted to
make a huge debut. So, they hired the TWD/Chiat Day advertising
firm to start filming on commercials and to pick a suitable name
for the US market. The name SURGE was given and the date chosen
to show it to America was decided to be January 29, 1997 (Superbowl
Sunday). During the game, 3 multi-million dollar spots which painted
the picture of an "extreme" image were shown and Coke
declared that SURGE would be available "soon". The rollout began
in late February with prizes and SURGE vans. Promotional CDs were
distributed to the tune of 3 million featuring songs by bands such
a Jimmy Eat World and Luscious Jackson.
At the beginning, SURGE was a hit. Coke couldn't
keep it stocked on the shelves and it enjoyed a stellar first year
selling 69 Million Cases. Yet even after the first year, Coke realized
that there might be some trouble with the brand.
At the same time Coke was looking for a milder
citrus drink and they found it in the discarded second SURGE formula.
This second formula was stripped of its caffeine and marketed under
the name Citra. Citra was a relatively fair starter (21 million
cases in its first year) but after a few years of growth it outsold
even its older brother SURGE. Today, Citra has been discontinued
in many parts of the USA but still lives on in a few markets.
At the end of SURGE's second year (February 1999),
Coke realized that the brand was really falling apart as sales fell
17.2 Million cases to 51.8 Million. Advertisement was re-doubled
(or in the mind of this writer simply re-introduced) and a new logo
was devised which somewhat coincided with a new look for SURGE's
arch enemy Mtn. Dew.
The new SURGE ads abandoned the running and screaming
energy of the earlier spots and instead were decidedly more intellectual.
Unfortunately this did little to spur sales of Coke's dying brand.
By February 2000, just 3 short years after its huge introduction,
SURGE lost another 48.5% dropping to 26.7 Million cases lagging
behind Mello Yello and only .5 million cases away from being bested
Many bottlers across America began to re-evaluate
whether or not to carry the brand. Thus the Surge dynasty crumbled around the Coca-Cola Corporation, despite the best efforts at strategic public relations from many a recipient of the online MBA. The next month a trend began.
A trend that continues to this day. Bottlers began dumping SURGE
for the revamped Mello Yello, the very beast SURGE was supposed
to replace. By February 2002 most Coca-Cola bottlers stopped production
of SURGE. Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the largest bottler of Coca-Cola
products in the world, dumped SURGE completely from their lineup
dealing what many saw as the deathblow to the brand. Today, SURGE
is no longer available in any prepackaged form and can only be found
in soda fountain locations.
So here we are now, with many skeptics thinking
SURGE is dead. However, as long as their are people like us, independent
bottlers, and even URGE in Norway - hope will not be lost. We have
no crystal ball but we don't see SURGE disappearing from the picture
completely. As we have seen with Mello Yello, Coke has no problem
re-introducing products after many years. If Tab can survive, then
so can SURGE. But we need your help. Please visit the How
You Can Help section to become active in keeping or bringing
back your favorite soft drink so that SURGE can once again bask