Irn Bru girds its loins for Coca-Culloden

IRN BRU, the fizzy drink, "made in Scotland from girders", is heading for battle with Coca Cola. The American multinational confirmed this week it is determined to crack Scotland which, alone among the world's nations, has failed to make Coke its favourite drink.

A special Coca-Cola sales team has been recruited to dislodge Irn Bru from the number one spot. "The new team," said a Coca-Cola spokesman, "is already up and running."

The plan is to expand production at the company's only plant in East Kilbride. One tactic will be Coca-Cola's policy of "glocalisation", tailoring promotions to local markets. As sponsors of Euro 96 and the World Cup Finals, Coca Cola ran competitions in the Scottish media offering the prize of tickets for Scottish matches.

Coca-Cola, cagey this week for fear of upsetting potential buyers, is confident that its new marketing stormtroopers will make an impact in Scotland.And there is much to fight for. Scotland has the highest per capita spending in Britain on soft drinks. It is said that, in parts of Glasgow, some households drink nothing else; no tea, coffee or water, just large bottles of Irn Bru.

Irn Bru, though dwarfed by Coca-Cola, is a highly profitable business and ready for a fight. Last year its owner, Lanarkshire-based AG Barr, had a turnover of pounds 107m and opening up operations in Russia, sold a million bottles in its first year.

The recipe, like that for Coca-Cola, is a secret and only two men are thought to know how to mix the 32 ingredients. One of them is Robin Barr, the chairman of AG Barr, and the other is his cousin Michael Barr. The drink's taste is hard to define, although aficionados liken it to liquefied Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

The battle to shake up the sweet drinks market could be bitter for Coca- Cola, according to Pat Kane, the Scottish journalist and singer with the band Hue and Cry.

He highlighted the country's attachment to the traditional Sunday morning breakfast of four Paracetamol and a bottle of Irn Bru. "It's a great hangover cure," he said. "We love to stodge ourselves up with lots of junk and the sugary stuff sticks to the ribs the best."

A long-standing grudge persists between Coca-Cola and Irn Bru, which MacDonald's preferred to offer in its Scottish outlets until Coca-Cola objected. Irn Bru advertising has made fun of its rival's relative unpopularity. In oneadvertisement, featuring a cow, the slogan reads: "When I become a burger, I want to be washed down with Irn Bru."

To beat off the competitionAG Barr has in recent years given the product an image makeover. It was originally developed as a non-alcoholic beverage for "puddles" who stirred vats of molten iron and were prone to nasty, alcohol-related accidents. For years Irn Bru maintained that manufacturing image, then the Leith Agency in Edinburgh took over the drink's advertising in the Nineties.

Gerry Farrell, creative director explained: "The old "made from girders" image means nothing to a London kid who is into Hip Hop and wears Tommy Hilfiger clothes. We had to provide a crash course in Irn Bru. We think we can reach out to these people better than Coca Cola can. We cannot outspend them so we have to out-think them."

The result of all this, said Pat Kane, is that Irn Bru has been "descotified". "The danger is that Coca-Cola, by using its policy of localisation, will make its drink look Scottish."

Irn Bru, despite the bravado of its advertising agency, is a little shaken. "This story emanated from Coca-Cola and Barr Soft Drinks have no further comment to make," said its spokeswoman. The drink, however, retains a crucial advantage, said Pat Kane. "Coca-Cola could never be advertised as a hangover cure."

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album