As sick children lay in bed over 30 years ago listening to their friends playing outside in the sunshine, there was one advantage they usually had over those friends: a glass of Lucozade brought up to them by their loving mothers. It was, as a slogan said at the time, the “nice part of being ill”. The drink was viewed almost exclusively as a product to aid recovery and was targeted at that specific market. It was very unusual at that time to buy a bottle of Lucozade purely as a refreshing beverage.
Those with long memories will recall that the product was originally sold not only in a glass bottle but also with a yellow cellophane wrap. There is nothing like a successful brand to spawn lookalikes and competitors soon sought to use similar cellophane wraps for their competing products. We were delighted therefore that in the early 1980s we managed to persuade the Irish Patents Office to register the yellow (amber) transparent wrap as a trade mark (see the attached representation) which granted the then owners, Beecham, exclusive rights in the wrap. As a consequence we were able on behalf of Beecham to prevent competitors from using similar cellophane wraps on their products. Registration of the get-up of a product as a trade mark was very unusual at the time and securing registration of the cellophane wrap was something of a coup. The registration continues to be of interest as it has been renewed for a number of terms even though the ownership of the trade mark has changed hands.
However, around the same time Beecham decided to re-position the product in the market. With the general health of the population improving demand for the drink had dropped off and in order to survive Beecham needed to “think outside the box”. Rather than let the product die or become marginalised, some clever marketing people decided to change the slogan “aids recovery” to “replaces lost energy” and athletes such as Olympian Daly Thompson were employed to promote the product not as a drink for sickly children but as an energy boosting product for busy and healthy people. It was a very successful transformation, all in a short space of time, and later on new flavours were introduced and even a range of isotonic sports drinks was launched under the brand Lucozade Sport.
So successful has the brand become that the Japanese company, Suntory, has recently purchased Trade Mark Lucozade (along with the Trade Mark Ribena) for £1.5 billion. Little did those sick children 30 years ago realise that their glass of Lucozade sitting on the locker beside them would one day be promoted by the most expensive football player in the world, Gareth Bale, as a drink to enhance sports performance.