Seven & Seven: Is the Cocktail and Ads Coming Back?

My father was born in 1925. A WW2 Canadian navy veteran, semi-pro football player, and lawyer who drank exclusively a variation of the “Presbyterian”. The recipe is 2 ounces scotch, bourbon or rye with ginger ale and club soda. Instead, he enjoyed rye, 7 Up and water. In hindsight, not really a Presbyterian. Closer to the simpler Seven & Seven. A drink that was all the rage in the late ’60’s and early 70’s.

7 Up has been around since 1920. Seagram’s, the liquor company, was founded in 1857 and gained notoriety, ubiquity and riches thanks to Prohibition. That is when the two first came together, however, only scattered information can be found on the early union. I came across a 7 Up ad from 1964 centred on sport fishing that extolled the virtues of mixing the pop with any whiskey. It got me thinking…not a bad idea. Play the beverage up as both mix and pop. 7 Up extended the campaign to gin.

The target audience is affluent men in desirable situations and settings (golfing, squash, sport fishing). Basically, those that have disposable income and drinking time on their hands. Another shows well-dressed couples around a fire in a Mad Men-era home. There is even one that may have appealed to my father…it showed the “sport” of curling. At the Winnipeg Winter Club, on the ice, he was known as the ‘Man with the Golden Arm’. Did he succumb to the advertising or did the advertising emulate his life?

A little digging saw a progression. Let’s talk about the originally named whiskey, Seagram’s Seven Crown, now mostly called Seagram’s Seven. It is a blended American whiskey. Once produced by Seagram’s, it is now owned by Diageo under the Seagram name. Seagram’s beverage division was acquired by Diageo, Pernod Ricard, and The Coca-Cola Company in 2000 (that is a whole other story!). What we see next is classic co-branding. Seven & Seven. Whiskey and mix, with a 70’s look and feel.

The two brands also put out a bunch of co-promotions that currently sell well on eBay and other platforms. You have to love the double handle mug idea.

This many decades long relationship got a fresh start earlier this year. This article from Campaign magazine takes you deep on how the two brands are, once again, meeting up in the time of social media. For a quicker hint, check out this short Vimeo. The love is trying to come back. However, there are a few challenges. The drink is definitely retro and whiskey enthusiasts call it, “a dive bar cocktail“. The Jolly Bartender pokes fun at it, “a culinary masterpiece on par with Moon Pies and Cheer Wine, chocolate and peanut butter, and bacon and eggs.”

Apparently, the two brands are not leaning on nostalgia which is a rich vein to mine. Perhaps, they felt they could not go there because Canadian Club staked that claim years ago. While working at DDB, I saw a fantastic campaign produced by our sister agency, BBDO. I contacted the art director on the account, who gladly sent me posters from the campaign. I had them mounted and they hung in my basement bar for years. Now they hang in my stepson’s home. The imagery sends you back, the copy draws you, and the call-to-action is, be more like your dad. All great stuff offering much more texture than the lamely watered down approach for Seven & Seven.

I hope they shift gears and leverage their history. Take it back to the 70’s…it is 7&7 after all. Here is a little something, I mocked up. Thanks for reading!

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