After a multiple year hiatus 7UP has brought back Fido Dido, the cartoon mascot who was synonymous with the brand in the 1990s. Fido was the star of the show at 7UP’s London pop-up last month, where the PepsiCo brand promoted its sugar-free variant 7UP Free by finding various ways to help visitors chill out. At the end of an unfathomably hot week, innovation researcher Charlie Lloyd found the prospect quite enticing. Here are his thoughts.
Despite being situated on one of Covent Garden’s quieter streets, Fido Dido House was hard to miss. The outside wall had been painted in 7UP’s instantly recognisable green, yellow and white, with the returning Fido Dido etched onto the wall, hanging off a drainpipe. In and of itself this façade constituted an impressive piece of OOH advertising, but according to 7UP, more immersive wonders of brand marketing lay waiting for me inside.
Over the threshold, the experience began by stepping through a second door into Fido Dido’s black and white world. There were plenty of opportunities to explore and play here: a skateboard lay resting by the door, Fido’s living room and kitchen contained various drawers and cupboards that could be looked into and, intentionally I believe, there weren’t any staff in this area to encourage people to be themselves, and of course, take some photos of each other to put on Instagram.
After getting my fill of Fido’s monochromatic cartoon existence I pressed on, out of the kitchen via his fridge door, where a blast of air conditioning greeted me like a long-lost friend. Through this ‘fridge’ there was a real shift in tone: apart from the reintroduction of colour, laid back ‘90s classics were playing and a bar ahead of me was serving cold 7UPs in glass bottles (by far the most superior vessel for carbonated soft drinks). In this room there was another social media opportunity, where a member of staff took photos of us sitting opposite one another on a bench that created the optical illusion of one person being much bigger than the other, while visitors were also encouraged to grab a pen and draw something that helps them to chill out on one of the walls.
Downstairs was the final room of the experience. Here, headphones were handed out playing 7UP ASMR – sounds of bottles being opened and drinks fizzing. This was the chill room, and there were various seating options on hand to enjoy the audio-sensory benefits of 7UP, from inflatable chairs to hammocks. I enjoyed the sweet release of the air conditioning down here for a little while longer, before grabbing a free t-shirt and making my way back out.
The pop-up had been promoted quite strongly throughout the previous week, not least on the cover of Time Out, which advertised Fido Dido House and a roundup of other places in London to ‘chill out’. That Time Out cover will have had a far bigger reach than the pop-up itself, of course, and walking around it I couldn’t help suspect that most of the visitors, like myself, were part of the industry. That said, there were a few children there who were clearly having a good time, and anywhere that allowed me to escape the insufferable furnace that was London for a few moments with a cold drink was always going to earn my sincere gratitude.
The pop-up incorporated various elements that brands have been experimenting with recently, albeit nothing entirely new. The most interesting thing about it though was its place within the wider campaign that’s brought back Fido Dido exclusively for 7UP Free. This points to the direction of travel in the category and as consumers continue to eschew sugar, I suspect we may well see more brands begin to tip the scales of their marketing budgets in favour of their sugar-free offerings and away from their core ones.