A Matter of Taste: Schweppes for quality (c.1954)

A Matter of Taste: Schweppes for quality (c.1954)
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This advertisement for Schweppes carbonated drinks and fruit cordials features a series of social occasions in which people enjoy the beverages. The locations include a luxury liner, an international air service, hotel lobby, garden restaurant and house party.

A voice-over emphasises the drink’s quality, recognisability and versatility. Over a shot of a Schweppes laboratory, the narrator says that '163 years of product research and manufacturing experience’ guarantees a high standard of quality.

We also see Schweppes’s fruit cordial products and then the ad concludes with a product shot and the line 'Schweppes is truly best’. 

Summary by Poppy De Souza

An historical cinema advertisement like this one is a joy to watch because it provides a glimpse into the mainstream values, social customs and fashions of the 1950s, when it was made. It provides a rich wealth of visual details, such as the interior of a 1950s Qantas aeroplane, women’s fashions, details of a refrigerator and kitchen and trends in product packaging. It also clearly presents the social norms of the time with women in the home and men in the professional sphere.

A Matter of Taste cleverly highlights Schweppes’s appeal to a wide sector of society by aligning its brand with travellers, business people, socialites, schoolchildren and even the housewife in the home, who are all pictured in their relevant context (such as hotel, cocktail party or milk bar). The male voice-over reinforces the versatility of the beverage – it can be enjoyed by young and old, as a mixer or served straight.

In each scenario in the ad, people are seen socialising with friends or otherwise enjoying themselves, backed by a sprightly instrumental soundtrack. Schweppes therefore becomes linked to having a good time. Product campaigns based on desire set an ideal to which the viewer aspires (happiness) and offer a straightforward means of achieving it (drinking Schweppes).

A Matter of Taste Synopsis

This colour cinema advertisement for Schweppes soft drinks and juice cordials emphasises quality, sophistication and versatility.

A Matter of Taste Curator’s notes

The Schweppes brand has been around since the late 1700s when Johann Jacob Schweppe manufactured the world’s first carbonated mineral water in Geneva. Today Schweppes beverages are sold the world over. By the 1950s, Schweppes was a global brand which sold itself on the consistent high quality of its product. The scene inside an Australian Schweppes laboratory illustrates that ’163 years of product research and manufacturing experience’ guarantee a standard unique to the Schweppes brand.

But for most, the science behind those 'Schweppervescent’ bubbles was not what made the drink so appealing. Instead, this ad focuses on Schweppes in the context of entertaining, socialising and recreation. Schweppes’s 'true to the fruit’ cordial range briefly makes an appearance in this advertisement, almost as an aside. The fruit cordials appeal to kids, as well as to adults mixing drinks. By the 1970s and 1980s, advertisements for Schweppes commonly emphasised its use as a mixer (with its tonic water, mineral water and ginger ale flavours).

The 'Schweppervescence’ campaign was first launched in the mid-1940s in the UK. The line about 'Schweppervescence’ – the little bubbles that 'last the whole drink through’ – is still used in Schweppes ads today.

Notes by Poppy De Souza

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