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There's nothing soft about selling drinks – Britvic marketing chief

Marketing has come a long way from the sales days of hats and balloons. Marketing today must be strategic, because plans can take up to five years to implement.

So said Britvic marketing director Kevin Donnelly, speaking to college students at IIT Tallaght. Donnelly (pictured), who is Marketer of the Year, is responsible for some of Ireland's best known soft drinks.

Britvic owns 30 brands, including Club Orange, Pepsi, Ballygowan and Mi-Wadi.

When consumers walk along shopping aisles, it only takes them seven seconds to choose an 'on the go' soft drink.

Whether they want Pepsi or Coke, Ballygowan or Tipperary, it puts pressure on brand owners to get the marketing right.

Not only must brands have slick ads, but they also need eye-catching displays to clinch sales.

Consumer habits are different on a Monday to a Friday. With disposable income tight, people tend to buy treats late in the week. Britvic aims to have its Ballygowan bottles lined up beside the tea and coffee brands early in the day. But come lunchtime, the Ballygowan needs to be located near the deli counter.

Britvic works hard on getting insights into consumer behaviour so as to stay ahead of the soft drinks 'posse'.

Mi-Wadi, Ireland's most loved orange squash, got a major revamp three years ago. Britvic's ad agency, Cawley Nea\TBWA, created Wadi-festo, with kids running the country. The MiWadi Mi-way microsite allowed youngsters develop their own squash flavours online.

The campaign saw Mi-Wadi's market share value exceed targets by three points. The end result was an eight-point jump from the starting point in 2010.