New ad agency takes over as Cheerwine pushes to go national by 2017

SALISBURY — Cheerwine has changed advertising agencies.

The Salisbury-based soft drink company, which wants to go national by its 100th anniversary in 2017, has hired BooneOakley of Charlotte to push the cherry-flavored soda pop across the country.

Advertising plans are under development but will include traditional and social media, events, local market activation plans and public relations, according to BooneOakley. The first new ads will appear in 2014.

As Cheerwine shifts from a regional favorite to a national “new kid on the block,” company leaders felt they needed three things from an agency, said Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing and sales — a deep understanding of the “brand soul,” experience in taking brands from regional to nationwide, and the strategic and creative skills necessary to tell stories that will resonate with a target audience.

“Cheerwine is a signature brand that just happens to be located right in our backyard,” BooneOakley President Greg Johnson said. “We’re looking forward to telling the world about it.”

In 2011, Cheerwine parent Carolina Beverage Corporation hired Woods Witt Dealy & Sons, a New York agency, to develop the brand’s biggest campaign to date. The campaign includes the logo, “Drink Cheerwine soft drink. Legend since 1917” and uses the phrase “Born in the South. Raised in a glass.”

Barbitta said BooneOakley replaces Woods Witt Dealy, which built the soft drink’s foundation campaign. Aspects of the campaign will continue, Barbitta said.

“The legend is alive and well,” he said.

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