The Early Years 1875 – 1900Robert Barr set the family cork cutting business onto an exciting new course
when in 1875 he started producing and selling aerated waters, as soft drinks
were then called. Within a generation his sons Robert F. Barr and Andrew G. Barr in Falkirk had established a second, independently run, Barr aerated waters business in Glasgow. Andrew developed a successful range of soft drinks which led to the expansion of his Glasgow business and the creation of a purpose built factory complex in the east end of the city.
Both Barr Falkirk and Barr Glasgow were one of hundreds of soft drinks businesses operating in Scotland towards the end of the nineteenth century. At this time the growing population of the industrial towns in Scotland had problems with poor sanitation, poor quality drinking water and poor diets. Soft drinks became popular because they were not only a treat, as they are today, but they also guaranteed people a safe quality drink combined with a ‘dose’ of energy through their sugar content.
Cork Cutting, 1830 Robert Barr, the fourth son of a farming family from Beith in Ayrshire, started a cork cutting business in Falkirk in 1830. In 1875 Robert’s son, also called Robert, added a soft drinks business, which quickly grew to become the only activity.
R.F. Barr label, 1887 In 1887 Robert Barr’s son, Robert F. Barr, left Falkirk to set up his own soft drinks business in Great Eastern Road, Glasgow (later renamed Gallowgate). His labels bore the new business name R.F. Barr's Glasgow.
Essence book, 1887 Many flavours of soft drinks are derived from the essences added to the syrup. It was common at that time for manufacturers to make their own essences from fruit oils and Robert Barr developed his own unique flavours for his growing range of soft drinks.
A.G. Barr & Co label, 1892In 1892, five years after getting his Glasgow business off the ground, Robert F. Barr decided to seek new challenges and moved to Ireland. It was left to his brother, Andrew G. Barr, to take over as sole proprietor. The name on the labels became A.G. Barr & Co.
Falkirk Premises, pre-1900Robert Barr’s Falkirk factory (pictured) where he started the soft drinks business in 1875. The number of horse drawn lorries in the picture indicates a growing and prosperous operation. Deliveries to shops were restricted to 10 miles out and back each day – the distance a horse could travel.
Recipe book, 1900The first step in manufacturing a carbonated soft drink is to prepare a syrup containing all the ingredients of the finished product other than the carbonated water. The lists of ingredients were laid down in recipe books used by syrup room staff.
Quality control equipment, early 1900sHydrometers were used to check the density of first the syrup and then the finished product – ensuring that the right amount of sugar was present. A pressure gauge, when attached to the top of the bottle, indicated how much carbon dioxide (CO2) was contained in the finished drink. The final check on the quality of the product was a simple taste test!
IRON BREW is launched, 1901Both Barr businesses, Robert Barr, Falkirk and A.G. Barr & Co. Glasgow, jointly launched their own original recipe ‘IRON BREW’ soft drink on Monday 15th April 1901. Adam Brown, a famous highland athlete from Shotts, featured on the label design.
A developing range, 1901Barr’s IRON BREW joined an established and popular range of products including ‘Wee Macgregor Brew’, ‘Japanese Plum’ and ‘Raspberry Cider’. Many of the products were still brewed with the fermentation being cut at the point where the resultant drink was below the maximum alcohol level for sale as a non-alcoholic beverage – in those days 1.1% alcohol, these days it has been reduced to 0.5%.
Andrew G. Barr dies suddenly aged just 31, 1903Tragically, in December 1903, Andrew died within three weeks of contracting Glanders Virus. Following his untimely death, his younger brother, 24-year-old William Snodgrass Barr, took over the management control of A.G. Barr & Co. Glasgow.
Returnable glass bottle deposits introduced, 1905The Glasgow and West of Scotland Association members introduced bottle deposits owing to ‘…the great loss and damage sustained by them through the non-return of bottles and syphons...they have found it necessary in the interest of the Aerated Water Trade, to institute a Bottle Deposit System delivered with their goods to customers, at One Halfpenny per bottle and Two pence per Syphon…’
Early press advertising, 1905The company starts to advertise in local newspapers. The adverts feature testimonials from the sporting heroes of the day. Donald Dinnie, All-round Champion Athlete of the World and Alex Munro, Champion Caber Tosser of the World and Undisputed Champion Wrestler of Great Britain, are two athletes featured.
Stanley steamer, 1918This was the first mechanised vehicle owned by the company. It was powered by steam and needed many bags of fuel to keep the boiler well stoked.
IRON BREW label change, 1922A Cambridge rower replaced Adam Brown on the IRON BREW labels. In the original picture his right hand had held an upright oar, but this was substituted by a glass of IRON BREW
Tizer launched, 1924Fred Pickup launched Tizer, coined from the word ‘Appetizer’. Barr acquired Tizer Ltd in 1972.
Ba-Bru & Sandy cartoon strips, 1930The ‘Adventures of Ba-Bru and Sandy’ first appeared in Scottish newspapers in the early 1930s. Ba-Bru was inspired by the character of ‘Sabu’ in Rudyard Kipling’s book ‘Sabu The Elephant Boy’. Ba-Bru and Sandy introduced generations of Scots to Barr’s IRON BREW and were the longest running advertising cartoon in history, lasting until the early 1970s.
Signed testimonial by Benny Lynch, 1938After the company started selling IRON BREW it engaged many sporting heroes of the day to endorse the brand. Benny Lynch, a Glaswegian, became World Flyweight Champion in 1935 and is widely regarded as one of the finest boxers that Britain has ever produced.
1942 - 1947
IRON BREW removed from sale during Second World War, 1942-1947The Second World War quickly resulted in shortages of raw materials. The Government had little choice but to ‘concentrate’ the soft drinks industry across the UK. It shut down many manufacturers, and those that remained were given a production number – A.G. Barr’s was No.6. Each was only allowed to produce six ‘standard drink’ recipes like lemonade. IRON BREW was not a designated ‘standard drink’ and so the brand went off sale for the remainder of the war and beyond.
IRN-BRU was born, 1947In 1946 the industry was making preparations for the end of Government control. Concern mounted that the name IRON BREW would no longer be permitted as a result of proposed new food labelling regulations. The proposed regulations stipulated that brand names should be ‘literally true’. Barr’s IRON BREW did contain iron but it was not brewed. As it turned out the regulations were modified when they finally went through in 1964, but the company had gone ahead with their plans to change the name and launched the phonetic respelling of the brand as IRN-BRU. The new IRN-BRU' trademark was first registered on Thursday 18th July 1946, although we believe that the new IRN-BRU brand name wouldn’t have appeared in the market until 1947 when the ‘concentration’ of the soft drinks industry during the war ended.
1901 - 1953
A BRAND IS BORN 1901-1953In this period Barr wrote themselves into Scottish history with the launch in 1901 of their original recipe IRON BREW. Through the success of the brand A.G. Barr quickly became the No.1 soft drinks business in Scotland. Barr was a pioneer in these early days of marketing, promoting Barr’s IRON BREW as a brand and building the reputation of the unique beverage with testimonials from famous athletes of the day. After the Second World War, in anticipation of changing food labelling regulations, Barr re-launched IRON BREW as IRN-BRU onto the UK national stage and beyond.
Barr ‘invade’ England, 1954Barr set out to ‘conquer’ England with the acquisition of John Hollows, Bradford.
Early England IRN-BRU sign, 1954A unique find, this IRN-BRU metal sign can be dated by the bottle and label design depicted. We know that the bottle dates from 1947, which was when Barr’s IRON BREW changed its name to the phonetic spelling IRN-BRU. The bottle type [hyperlink to the ‘Found a bottle page here] is an internal screw cap. These were replaced around 1952 with the first generation of the closures we have today, so we can date this sign from between 1947-mid-1950s. It’s likely this sign was produced to help market IRN-BRU in England when the drink was introduced in England. A similar sign in Scotland from that time would have featured advertising cartoon characters Ba-Bru & Sandy (which would have been unknown south of the border). Photograph reproduced by kind permission Mr A. Dolan.
IRN-BRU England label, 1969IRN-BRU introduce a ‘Tartan’ inspired label design in England only.
Tizer Ltd is acquired by Barr for £2.5million, 1972Barr achieved national distribution throughout Scotland, England and Wales as a result of the purchase of Tizer, which was started by the Pickup family in Bristol in 1907 and became a public company in 1936.
Barr relaunch Tizer, 1973Barr relaunched Tizer after then Chairman Robert Barr insisted that the company’s chemists reproduce a formula as near to the original 1924 Tizer as possible
IRN-BRU 330ml can design, 1974The purchase of Stotherts Ltd. Atherton in 1967 brought soft drinks cans into the Barr portfolio for the first time. In 1974 a new IRN-BRU design was introduced across the range of packs including 330ml cans. This design was replaced in 1988.
Billy Connolly Record, 1975IRN-BRU is known for its apparently magical restorative powers as a hangover cure. Billy Connolly wrote and released an ode dedicated to Mr and Mrs Barr “for saving my life on so many Sunday mornings” in his 1975 album 'Cop Yer Whack For This'.
Non-returnable 1 litre Plastishield bottle, 1976Plastishield covered glass bottles enabled the supermarkets to sell large bottles of soft drinks for the first time. The covering made it safe to sell glass although the maximum pack size was only 1 litre.
Robert Barr receives O.B.E., 1978The picture shows Robert Barr with his wife Dorothy and son Robin at Buckingham Palace where he received an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) for services to the soft drinks industry.
The first plastic bottles go on sale in supermarkets, 1979In the late 1970s PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) packaging was introduced and quickly replaced Plastishield glass bottles since 2 litre, or even 3 litre, bottles could be manufactured and distributed with no safety issues.
Alan Wells visits Barr twice in a day, 1980Olympic 100m Gold medalist Alan Wells officially opened two new Barr Warehouses on the same day – one in Glasgow and one in Atherton, near Bolton, England.
150- year celebration, 1830-1980A special brochure was produced to mark the Barr family’s 150 years in business.
Home Bru kit, mid-1980sOne of IRN-BRU’s ‘Made in Scotland from Girders’ posters.
IRN-BRU low calorie 330ml can, 1985In 1979 a new low-calorie IRN-BRU variant had been launched in glass and plastic bottles. Low-calorie IRN-BRU became available in 330ml cans from 1985.
Mandora St. Clements Ltd. acquistion, 1988Barr purchased Mandora St. Clements Ltd. for £21.5million, diversifying into high juice-based drinks. In addition the acquisition brought the KA brand into the product range.
1954 - 1989
A National Drink, 1954-19891959 heralded a key period of acquisition and consolidation after Barr became one company with the purchase by A.G. Barr & Co. Ltd. of Robert Barr Ltd. Falkirk. The company stepped up its expansion into England and became a public company in 1965. From the 1960s onwards a series of innovative advertising campaigns resulted in a period of rapid sales growth across the range of Barr brands. One of the most memorable: ‘Your other national drink – made in Scotland from girders’ confirmed IRN-BRU’s popular status as a national brand. This iconic TV and poster advertising campaign (which ran from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s) is still recalled with fondness by the Scottish public. In 2007 the ‘Made in Scotland from Girders’ campaign was awarded ‘Best Advertising Strapline Of The Last 21 Years’ at the Scottish Advertising Awards.
Portfolio Expansion, 1990 to the present dayDuring the last 25 years A.G. Barr has undergone a bigger change in the way it does business than at any time in its history.
While the company continues to invest heavily in its own brands it has also undertaken a whole host of product range development programmes. We’ve done this by:
• developing and creating new products in-house
• entering into franchise agreements (such as Snapple and Rockstar)
• brand acquisitions (for example, Strathmore Spring water and Rubicon.)
We have consolidated our non-water Scottish operations on one site at Cumbernauld, and opened a new state-of-the-art factory in Milton Keynes.
Further afield the company we have introduced IRN-BRU into a number of international soft drinks markets including Russia, Spain and Australia.
New A.G. Barr logo design, 1993A new corporate logo, designed by Coley Porter Bell, was introduced in 1993 with the launch event taking place in the yard of our Gallowgate site at Great Eastern Road, Glasgow.
Barr’s D’N’B, 1993Barr’s dandelion and burdock flavour, previously part of the Barr flavour range, was relaunched as D’N’B in 1993 and became the first branded dandelion and burdock product on the market.
In 2008 D’N’B announced a new two-year sponsorship deal and became the official soft drink of the Rugby League, the Super League and the National League. In 2008 D’N’B also sponsored Team England in the year of the Rugby World Cup in Australia.
10-year award-winning IRN-BRU poster campaign, 1995A poster campaign was launched in Scotland in 1995 highlighting individuals’ relationships with IRN-BRU.
The campaign established a unique tone of voice and an accessible irreverent sense of humour, which has come to be synonymous with the brand. The campaign won many awards over the years including the prestigious Scottish Advertising Awards 2007 ‘Best Poster of the last 21 years’ award for the ‘Bitches’ poster.
Orangina franchise, 1995In 1995 Pernod Ricard, then owners of the Orangina brand, granted a franchise to A.G. Barr to produce and distribute Orangina in the UK. Two years later Chairman Robin Barr became a Chevaliar of the Confrerie de l’Orange – a society dedicated to the promotion of the orange (and in particular Orangina!)
Cumbernauld factory opens, 1996All Barr soft drinks production in Scotland was centralised at a new location in Cumbernauld in this year.
The opening ceremony was carried out by three times Formula One World Racing Champion Sir Jackie Stewart. Then, as now, the factory produced Barr 250ml, 500ml and 2 litre plastic bottles as well as 750ml glass returnable bottles. In the later development of the site a new 330ml canning line was installed in 2007 capable of producing 690 million cans per year.
IRN-BRU tartan, 1997Our IRN-BRU tartan received its certificate of accreditation (No.97017) on 12th September 1997 from the Council of the Scottish Tartans Society. The tartan substantially incorporates the IRN-BRU orange and IRN-BRU blue colours.
Russian IRN-BRU, 1998IRN-BRU was first manufactured in Russia in 1998. Today IRN-BRU is marketed
and distributed by our partners Moscow Brewing Company (MBC) who
manufacture the brand in Russia. Thanks to MBC’s extensive production and
distribution network IRN-BRU is now widely available in Russia. Consumer
recognition is high and the brand is firmly established as one of the
country’s top-10 selling carbonated soft drinks.
100 years of IRN-BRU, 2001As part of the IRN-BRU centenary celebrations in 2001 the company produced a book ‘Robert Barr to A.G. Barr PLC. 1875 to 2001’. The book was researched and written by Chairman Robin Barr and Group Brands Manager Mark Jephcott and contains a full history of the business spanning over 125 years. Staff received a limited edition commemorative plate to mark the occasion.
Orangina Rouge is launched in the UK, 2002The blood orange version of Orangina comes to the UK.
Lipton Ice Tea, 2003Following a successful regional launch in 2002, Barr signs a national distribution agreement with Unilever for their Lipton Iced Tea brand in the UK. In 2003 Unilever committed to a massive £6M sales and marketing campaign which included national media, a sampling campaign and the extension of the product range to 12 variants.
IRN-BRU phenomenal campaign, 2004This campaign was launched in Scotland and the North East with a full programme of promotional activity and media support.
Diet IRN-BRU is relaunched, 2005Diet IRN-BRU becomes a brand in its own right with new packaging and a new TV Campaign which introduces the world to Raoul ...‘Hey Ladies!’
Strathmore acquisition, 2006The Forfar-based Strathmore Spring water business was acquired by A.G. Barr for £15.5M in 2006.
Strathmore Spring water is rich in beneficial minerals and is created by a 50-year filtration process through the sandstone layers of the Vale of Strathmore. The water is drawn by us for bottling from an aquifer deep underground.
The most famous building in the Vale is Glamis Castle which appears on every bottle of Strathmore Spring. The Castle is famous for its Royal connections as well as being one of the locations in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.
As part of a partnership agreement between A.G. Barr PLC. and the Princes Trust in 2008, Strathmore Spring Water became the official water of The Trust and is used to support their fundraising activities.
IRN-BRU 32 launched, 2006Derek the Cuckoo, played by Scottish actor Brian McCardie was created to launch our new energy drink brand - IRN-BRU 32 - onto TV screens across Scotland in 2006.
IRN-BRU 32, launched in 250ml cans, was developed to compete in the fast growing energy drinks market. The brand won the ‘Top Campaign of the Year 2006’ award from leading trade magazine ‘The Grocer’ and was also awarded J Sainsbury’s ‘Best Promotional Launch of the Year 2006’.
St Clements Fruits, 2006The St Clements brand was re-launched in 2005 as St Clements Originals, a range of great tasting fruit based drinks:
• Strawberry and Lime
• Apple and Blueberry
A new Pear and Kiwi flavour was added in 2008. Other products launched under St Clements Originals are ‘Pure Juice’ and ‘Pure Fruit Smoothie’ which were initially developed for schools but are also enjoying good sales and distribution in the impulse trade.
IRN-BRU Snowman advert, 2006The IRN-BRU ‘Snowman’ Ad was the first-ever Christmas TV advert produced by the brand.
Inspired by Raymond Briggs classic 1982 animated film ‘The Snowman’ it gave a very funny twist to this traditional Christmas tale. ‘The Snowman’s’ famous soundtrack ‘Walking in the Air’ by Howard Blake was re-written with alternative IRN-BRU lyrics.
The advert was first screened in Scotland during Christmas 2006 and has since become very popular with the Scottish public, who have viewed it over 1 million times on YouTube. In 2007 it was also screened in England.
IRN-BRU Scottish Football League, 2007In July 2007 IRN-BRU announced its £3million three-year sponsorship deal with the Scottish Football League.
The sponsorship was developed to support Scottish League Divisions 1, 2 and 3 which comprise 30 clubs throughout the length and breadth of the country.
IRN-BRU ‘Best brand’ last 21 years, 2007IRN-BRU stole the show at the 2007 Scottish Advertising Awards. The brand won ‘Best Brand’, ‘Best Slogan’, ‘Best Radio Commercial’, ‘Best Advertising Campaign’ and ‘Best Poster’ of the last 21 years. It also won the coveted ‘Grand Prix’ Award for the Snowman Advert – an award given for the best overall campaign of the year.
‘New’ Tizer, 2007The Tizer brand was relaunched in 2007 with a new logo, packaging and formula based on the original 1924 recipe. The new recipe contains 10% fruit juice with no artificial flavourings, artificial sweeteners or artificial colours to appeal to more health conscious consumers.
St Clements range extension, 2007The St Clements juice drinks brand was further strengthened with the introduction of a range of 100% pure juice and fruit smoothie products to complement the successful St Clements fruits range.
Orangina advertising campaign, 2007A new ‘3D’ Orangina logo was introduced onto packaging in the UK in 2007.
A memorable advertising campaign was also launched to reinforce Orangina’s Mediterranean roots and the ‘Shake It to Wake It’ message. The campaign included moving images on LCD screens sited on the London Underground and impactful back of bus advertising.
Cumbernauld facility nears completion, 2007A.G. Barr operations in Scotland are centralised into a new £37million production, warehousing, distribution and Head Office facility located at Cumbernauld, nine miles east of Glasgow.
Strathmore ‘more spring’ TV ads, 2007A.G. Barr’s first advertising campaign for Strathmore Spring Water was launched in 2007 as part of a £1million marketing drive in Scotland.
The new advert brought a vibrant, modern focus to the brand with an exciting urban dance sequence set to an uplifting soundtrack. Amazing digital images of the water itself also made for a memorable advert. Popular with consumers the advert was also used for the brand’s 2008 TV campaign.
Vitsmart acquisition, 2008Vitsmart, a functional water brand, launched in 2005 was acquired and relaunched by A.G. Barr in 2008.
TAUT acquisition, 2008The TAUT sports drink range was acquired and re-launched by A.G. Barr in 2008. The product contains no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours or flavours.
Rowing star and four-times Olympic Gold medalist Sir Matthew Pinsent is an ambassador for the brand.
The Prince’s Trust, 2008Barr signs a partnership agreement with The Prince’s Trust. Barr will support the work of The Trust by investing in a number of its core community programmes across the UK, with a particular focus on Scotland. Across the company all Barr employees will be encouraged to develop their own fundraising initiatives and get involved in the work of The Trust.
The Prince’s Trust gives practical and financial support to those aged 14-30 who are struggling at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. More than three in four young people The Trust helped last year moved into work, education or training.
The Prince’s Trust – helping to change young lives. For more information go to www.princes-trust.org.uk
Barr’s Originals launched, 2008Reflecting increasing consumer interest in nostalgic and authentic brands Barr’s Originals was launched in 2008.
This is a range of great tasting traditional carbonated drinks containing 100% natural flavours and top quality ingredients. Bottled in glass to ensure the finest quality, taste and freshness, the brand was launched in four flavours:
• Dandelion and Burdock
• Traditional Lemonade
• Cream Soda with a twist of Raspberry
• Ginger Beer
Acquisition of Groupe Rubicon Ltd., 2008A.G. Barr PLC. announced on 5th August 2008 that it had entered into a conditional agreement to purchase Groupe Rubicon Limited for a total initial cash consideration of £59.8 million. The Rubicon Group is a UK-based manufacturer and distributor of branded exotic juice drinks.
First IRN-BRU glass promotion, 2008IRN-BRU created the first-ever limited edition glass in its 107-year history which was available in Scotland, in a £2,000,000 consumer promotion campaign.
The consumer promotion in store was to: Buy two x 2 litre bottles of IRN-BRU Regular or Diet and get a FREE IRN-BRU Glass. Two special 10 second TV adverts were produced to create awareness of the IRN-BRU glass and the promotional offer in store which ran during August.
Strathmore Spring is relaunched, 2008Strathmore Spring, the No.1* water brand in the on-trade introduced a new label design.
The new label design built on Strathmore’s brand strengths of purity, contemporary Scottishness and quality, placing Glamis Castle at the core of the design because its location at the heart of the Vale of Strathmore marks the source of the water. The castle’s presence on-pack delivered a real sense of origin and underlined the brand’s provenance. The new label also featured the brand’s support for the youth charity The Prince’s Trust.
* Source: Neilsen On-trade MAT Value to July 2008
Vitsmart is relaunched, 2008Vitsmart was completely relaunched with a new formulation, a new vitamin mix and a range of five exciting new flavours in new 500ml bottles.
New variant Rockstar Punched is launched, 2008
With over six million cans sold in its first year of launch new Rockstar Punched joins the range. Rockstar Punched contains Guava and 10% juice.
IRN-BRU sponsors Rugby League and Sky Sports Super League Coverage, 2009IRN-BRU becomes the official soft drink sponsor of the Rugby League until 2010 and the broadcast sponsor of Sky Sports’ Super League coverage for 2009.
The sponsorship with Sky Sports and the Rugby Football League raised the profile and visibility of IRN-BRU reaching over 10 million viewers through the 60 live games broadcast during the season.
IRN-BRU sugar free campaign 2009
IRN-BRU created a brand new advertising campaign to highlight the sugar free benefit of Diet IRN-BRU.
Sporting two identical images, consumers are asked to ‘Spot the Difference’; but there is only one difference – one is sugar free. The thinking behind the creative was to reinforce that Diet IRN-BRU is sugar free but still has the same refreshing taste as IRN-BRU.
The advertising campaign appeared on billboards across the country during February 2009.
Robin Barr retires as Chairman, 2009Robin Barr (71), steps down as Chairman at the Company's AGM in May 2009.
Robin held the position of Chairman for 31 years and was a director of A.G. Barr for 44 years. Robin agrees to remain on the Board in a non-executive role.
Ronnie Hanna (61) who served as a non-executive Director on the A.G. Barr Board for the last five years becomes non-executive Chairman in May. Jonathan Warburton (51), Chairman of Warburtons Ltd., is appointed as independent non-executive Director.
Strathmore gives a new twist to flavoured waters, 2009
From April 2009 Strathmore introduced Strathmore Twist, a new range of naturally flavoured great tasting still and sparkling spring waters.
Strathmore pioneered the flavoured water category launching the first range of flavoured waters in 1989. Strathmore Twist was launched across 330ml glass, 500ml and 1.5lt PET packs in three flavours Lemon & Lime, Blackberry & Strawberry and Cranberry & Raspberry.
The product contains a hint of natural fruit flavour with no artificial colours, no artificial flavours and unlike the majority of other flavoured waters contains no artificial sweeteners.
IRN-BRU Musical, 2009On Tuesday 5th May the 60-second IRN-BRU Musical TV advert was premiered on STV as part of the brand’s £2million summer campaign.
Set in the corridors and grounds of the fictional ‘Auchendookit Senior High’, IRN-BRU Musical shows the school’s students performing their own very Scottish musical number, ‘It's Fizzy, It’s Ginger, It’s Phenomenal’.
The campaign featured 18-year-old Jack Lowden from Oxton in the Borders, a first-year theatre student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and a host of young Scottish actors from across the country.
IRN-BRU Musical was created by the Leith Agency. A teaser campaign running in the weeks prior to launch built huge anticipation, and included a major online countdown on websites such as bebo, and the release of ‘blipverts’ – 1 second clips of the advert - to IRN-BRU’s online membership.
Mysterious cast cut-outs and posters appeared in shops and universities across Scotland. There was also a premiere screening event held at the Classic Grand in Glasgow on Wednesday 29th April 2009 followed by an on-line premiere watched by thousands.
Healthy relaunch for St Clements Fruits, 2009
St Clements Fruits relaunched in July 2009 with a new ‘healthier’ formula, label design and wide mouth 500ml pack presentation.
The new formulation contains no artificial additives (no colours, flavours or sweeteners) and has 13.5% juice content. But what makes the brand special is Aseptic (sterile) filling at the point of bottling which means there is no need for preservatives.
The St Clements Fruits range is available in Orange and Lemon, Strawberry and Lime and Blackcurrant Apple and Blueberry.
IRN-BRU Mighty Glass promotion, 2009One million IRN-BRU Mighty Glasses were produced in three different presentation boxes for the brand’s summer consumer promotion.
In one of the largest promotions of its kind consumers were able to redeem the glass – for every two x 2 litre bottles of regular or diet IRN-BRU purchased.
The limited edition launch was backed by a £250,000 advertising campaign on STV and Channel 4, featuring a 20-second TV commercial. The commercial reached 60% of the Scottish population.
IRN-BRU World Record breaker, 2009
Nearly 10,000 people attended the IRN-BRU Can Clan event held on Sunday 13th September 2009 in Glasgow Green as part of Scotlands ‘Homecoming’ year.
Hosted by popular actor and writer Sanjeev Kohli with music from ‘The Zutons’ and ‘Pearl And The Puppets’ IRN-BRU smashed the world record for the cancan dance.
An official adjudicator from Guinness World Records, Jack Brockbank, confirmed that the new record had been set after the required five minutes of cancan moves.
IRN-BRU Heritage can, 2009Five million IRN-BRU heritage cans – enough for everyone in Scotland – were produced as part of ‘Homecoming’.
They featured the IRN-BRU logo that was first introduced in 1947, when the spelling of Barr’s IRON BREW was changed to Barr’s IRN-BRU for the first time.
Former Chairman Robin Barr and original IRN-BRU delivery boy, Jimmy Allen, now 87, unveiled the can in Callendar Park in Falkirk.
IRN-BRU join the packaging and food waste revolution, March 2010
A.G. Barr joins a UK-wide scheme to reduce household food waste and cut product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain.
The company signed up to Courtauld Commitment 2, a voluntary waste reduction agreement for major grocery retailers and brand owners, supported by Zero Waste Scotland.
Working with Zero Waste Scotland, A.G. Barr took substantial steps to
reduce the amount of packaging used across its range of products from IRN-BRU packaging to bottles of Strathmore Spring Water.
Picture from left to right: Roger White CEO A.G. Barr p.l.c.,Richard Lochhead Scottish Environment Secretary
and Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland
IRN-BRU gets animated, January 2010A new 60 second IRN-BRU advert was screened throughout April, May and June in Scotland, introducing audiences to a maverick IRN-BRU Pied Piper.
A cast of animated animals dance to his merry tune through country lanes and villages, as he demonstrates his phenomenal animal magnetism after taking a swig of the iconic drink! But all is not what it seems.
The advertising campaign was screened in cinemas across Scotland.
A.G. Barr launches new premium 330ml glass bottle range, May 2010
A new premium range of 330ml glass bottles for the on-premise sector was launched in early May 2010.
IRN-BRU re-launched its Regular and Diet variants in a new premium up-sized 330ml glass bottle to replace its existing 275ml pack size. At the same time Barr's Originals - a range of premium quality traditional carbonate flavours - launched a new premium 330ml glass bottle for on-premise in four variants:
• zingy traditional lemonade
• cream soda with a hint of raspberry
• dandelion & burdock
• fiery ginger beer
Help us make Scotland magic at football, 2010 IRN-BRU appealed to the men and women of Brazil to help us create the next generation of Scottish football legends.
BRUzil: Road to 2034' was a simple yet potentially revolutionary idea. The focus was to unite Scots and Brazilians in the summer of 2010, to forever enhance the Scottish footballing gene pool and create phenomenal future players for the world's biggest football tournament in 2034.
New partnership between A.G. Barr and Falkirk Wheel, 2010
The Falkirk Wheel and A.G. Barr re-opened the attraction's family play park following an extensive refurbishment supported by our community fund.
The park - which contains climbing frames, scramble nets and slides all built on a specialist safety playing surface - was originally built in 2003 with funding from A.G. Barr. It was part of the biggest ever community investment that the company has ever made, in its support of the Falkirk Wheel project.
KA launches Fruit Punch, June 2010KA, the most consumed flavoured carbonate in the African and Caribbean communities in the UK, launched KA Fruit Punch, in June 2010.
A brand new taste from the Caribbean, KA Fruit Punch became the 6th flavour in the range and the first new flavour launch for the KA brand in more than 20 years.
ROCKSTAR Launches Two UK Firsts, July 2010
Rockstar launches two new products in July 2010 - Rockstar Recovery 500ml can and a 1lt PET range.
Rockstar Recovery the UK’s first non-carbonated energy drink, targets the specific consumer need of recovery.
Rockstar also introduced a new packaging design in June 2010, to deliver an even more vibrant and appealing brand presence across the range.
IRN-BRU's Ginger Boot Award, August 2010IRN-BRU introduced an exciting new goal scoring initiative - the Ginger Boot - for the start of the SFL 2010/11 Season.
A pair of Nike Ginger coloured boots was the prize up for grabs for the top monthly goal scorer throughout the season. A bespoke Ginger Boot trophy was also presented to the top goal scorer at the end of season awards
League sponsors make a phenomenal towel delivery to SFL clubs, 2010
More than 1000 limited edition IRN-BRU towels - produced for a national consumer promotion - were sent to SFL clubs throughout Scotland. Players from First Division leaders Raith Rovers were among the first to receive their towel delivery.
IRN-BRU sponsors the Charity Award at the Great Scot Awards, September 2010
IRN-BRU, teamed up with The Sunday Mail and event sponsor Morrisons, to support the Charity Award at the Great Scot Award's 20th anniversary.
The Charity Award is an award dedicated to people who raise money for those less fortunate than most.
The IRN-BRU Charity Award winner on the night was Spirit Aid, a charity founded by actor David Hayman in 2001 dedicated to supporting children and young people in Scotland and around the world.
Diet IRN-BRU Changes to IRN-BRU Sugar Free, January 2011
Diet IRN-BRU was renamed IRN-BRU Sugar Free in January 2011, but the new name did not mean a change to its secret recipe, which remained exactly the same.
The introduction of IRN-BRU Sugar Free was supported by a heavyweight marketing campaign to create huge consumer awareness of both the name change and the new re-design of all IRN-BRU SUGAR FREE packaging.
SFL Tops for Teams, May 2011
IRN-BRU invested £70,000 in youth football with an exciting new initiative - Tops for Youth Teams – launched in May 2011.
Fans across Scotland were encouraged to return their IRN-BRU plastic bottle tops to help their local SFL club grab a larger share of the cash. It was simple - the more bottle tops a club collected, the more money they received.
Each club got a share of the investment, and the team with the most tops received a whopping £10,000.
Rubicon Light, 2011
Rubicon created a breakthrough low calorie flavour – Rubicon Mango Light.
The new lighter option still has all the mouth-watering taste of exotic Alphonso mangoes, but with 70% less calories and no added sugar. Rubicon Mango Light is made with the same delicious mango pulp as best-selling original Rubicon Mango and is bursting with the same great flavour.
IRN-BRU Summer Activity, 2011
IRN-BRU's national £3 million media programme is spearheaded with a lively new TV campaign.
The 60 second seaside escapade is a mix of live action and animation set to Paolo Nutini’s fast-paced hit, ‘Pencil Full of Lead’.
Robin brings back one of his favourite flavours, May 2011
Barr's Appleade made an eagerly anticipated appearance on Scottish shop shelves from May 2011, all thanks to Robin Barr. The former chairman championed the development and launch of the sparkling apple drink as it is one of his favourite flavours!
A.G. Barr had produced fizzy apple drinks under a variety of different names including Cider Champagne, which was produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
New brand positioning makes it clear for Strathmore, June 2011
A new look for Strathmore was introduced in June 2011, alongside a new pack design with the new brand message ‘Strathmore – A source of clarity’.
Eye-catching labels highlighted Strathmore’s authenticity as a major Scottish water brand and took pride that it is sourced from the Vale of Strathmore on the East coast of Scotland. Featuring Glamis Castle - which lies at the heart of the Vale of Strathmore - the labels helped to root the brand in a ‘real place’.
BRU-JET sends sales sky high, 2011
BRU-JET was IRN-BRU’s biggest ever instant win on-pack promotion with 100 seats on the BRU-JET to be won by consumers.
BRU-JET whisked the lucky winners away for an all inclusive, week-long holiday in the sun-drenched island of Tenerife.
Fiery IRN-BRU, 2011
In the autumn of 2011, IRN-BRU launched its first ever limited edition Fiery IRN-BRU, with all the traditional taste of IRN-BRU but with a fiery kick.
A dramatic launch - staged in Glasgow's George Square - saw former A.G. Barr Chairman Robin Barr pull the first ever bottle of Fiery IRN-BRU from a blazing furnace, in scenes reminiscent of IRN-BRU's legendary 'made in Scotland from girders' past.
Assembled fans were then given a first taste of Fiery IRN-BRU.
IRN-BRU Super League, January 2012
IRN-BRU renewed its sponsorship deal with Sky and the RFL during January 2012 – the fourth year of the sponsorship deal.
Our iconic brand continues to be the ‘official soft drink of the Super League’ and sponsored Super League on Sky Sports’ for the 2012 season.
New ground broken with Rubicon frozen products launch, March 2012
Our most ambitious NPD initiative ever took place in March 2012 when we extended Rubicon, the UK’s number one exotic juice drink brand, into a completely new category - the UK’s £800 million ice cream market.
The new range of Rubicon ice cream and ice lollies comprised of 4 x 110ml push up lollies, 2 x 750ml tubs and a 4 x 80ml multi-pack.
£6M ‘Love the Exotic’ marketing campaign, May 2012
Rubicon launched a massive £6 million ‘Love the Exotic’ nationwide marketing campaign which featuring the brand’s biggest ever TV advertising campaign.
Two new 30-second commercials appeared in May 2012 and ran for three months.
‘IRN-BRU gets you through’ TV Campaign, 2012
The next chapter in IRN-BRU’s advertising history was inspired by the Scots’ irrepressible character.
This campaign celebrated the Scottish people’s ability to bounce back from tough situations with determination and by facing whatever life throws at them with a sense of humour.
Each of the three new 30-second adverts brings to life the campaign mantra ‘IRN-BRU gets you through’. It takes a tongue-in-cheek look at how a taste of the nation’s best-loved soft drink can reinvigorate you and give you the strength to cope with even the most cringe worthy ‘nightmare’ scenarios.
Rockstar agreement extension, June 2012
A.G. Barr announces an extended franchise agreement with Rockstar Energy Drink to 2024. The new 15-year agreement extends a partnership that began in 2007.
2012/13 IRN-BRU Scottish Football League new season kick-off, 2012
The launch of the IRN-BRU SFL 2012/13 season took place in Glasgow ahead of the first round of matches in August 2012.
New Limited Edition Barr Strawberry Sours Launch, August 2012
Strawberry Sours flavour a new limited edition was launched in August 2012 to tap into the fast-growing consumer flavour trend for sour sweets.
A.G. Barr delivers spooky packs for Halloween, 2012
A.G. Barr gave shoppers a fright on this Halloween night by launching a range of new spooky special packs.
Iconic A.G. Barr unveiled as Official Supporter of Glasgow 2014 Games, 2012
A.G. Barr is revealed as an Official Supporter of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Our links with Glasgow date back more than 100 years, and we were honoured to support the Games through our wide portfolio of brands. Strathmore water and other beverages were supplied to the Athletes’ Village during the Games time, and IRN-BRU, Strathmore, Rubicon and other Barr products were made available across Glasgow 2014 venues.
New Barr warehouse build at Milton Keynes, October 2012
Construction started on our new £41M manufacturing and logistics facility at Magna Park and Barrs Operations Director Andrew Memmott and Head of Financial Planning Peter Waddell joined directors at our contactors Gazeley on 25th Oct 2012, to formally mark the occasion. When fully operational the facility will employ approximately 100 people from the local area.
Every Can Counts, November 2012
A new drinks can recycling programme, Every Can Counts (ECC), is launched in Scotland to help businesses improve their recycling rates. The programme is backed by A.G. Barr and the Scottish Government’s delivery partner Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS).
IRN-BRU limited edition Glasgow 2014 can, February 2013
This limited edition can design marked Barr’s sponsorship of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and enlisted the help of Olympian and Commonwealth Games medallist Peter Kirkbride.
The special design draws on Barr’s packaging from 1901, when moustachioed Highland strongman, Adam Brown, featured on the original label of Barr’s ‘IRON BREW’ as it was then known.
BRU-SKIES On-Pack, May 2013
IRN-BRU launches its hottest-ever on-pack promotion for IRN-BRU: BRU-SKIES. The brand gave consumers the chance to win one of over 5,000 prizes, including cash amounts of up to £100 and thousands of pairs of bespoke BRU-SHADES.
IRN-BRU Official Soft Drink of the SPL, November 2013
IRN-BRU and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) agreed the biggest signing of the summer as the nation’s favourite soft drink was announced as the Official Soft Drink of the SPFL.
Rubicon Coconut Water launched, March 2014.
The launch of Rubicon Coconut Water provides an exciting addition to the exotic soft drinks range. The launch was supported by a £2M brand investment throughout the summer of 2014 , including an outdoor media campaign and consumer sampling.
The Queen’s Baton Relay Visits Cumbernauld, June 2014
The baton received a warm welcome at A.G. Barr HQ from Chief Executive Roger White and over 200 members of staff when it visited Cumbernauld on 23rd June 2014.
IRN-BRU Born to Support TV advert, July 2014
IRN-BRU captured the mood of the Scottish nation as it prepared to back the national team at the Commonwealth Games with the launch of a new TV advert. The campaign ‘Born to Support’ captured the essence of what it means to be a Scottish supporter.
Snapple arrives, September 2014
A.G. BARR enters into a 10 year agreement with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (“DPSG”) commencing on January 2015, which gives it exclusive rights to sell, market and distribute the Snapple brand in the UK and certain other EU territories.
Snapple is a leader in great-tasting premium beverages. Founded in 1972 by three childhood friends, Snapple got its start in Greenwich Village, New York and is now available throughout the United States and Europe.
Cocktails on deck – Funkin acquisition announced, February 2015
A.G. BARR announces the acquisition of Funkin Limited for an initial cash consideration of £16.5 million.
Funkin was founded in the late 1990s and offers a broad range of premium cocktail solutions including fruit purees, cocktail mixers and syrups.
Funkin will operate within the Group as a supported, yet stand alone, business unit.
A.G. BARR joins the Clean Up Scotland Campaign
A.G. Barr pledges its support for the Clean Up Scotland mass-engagement campaign organised by Scotland’s charity for the environment, Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB).
The Clean Up Scotland Campaign aims to change long-term behaviour and attitudes in Scotland by making littering unacceptable. It encourages people across the country to sign the pledge and become anti-litter champions in their local communities.
Official Sponsor of the Football League
IRN-BRU becomes the Official Soft Drink Partner of The Football League.
The three year deal involves clubs across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two and kicked-off during the 2015 Play-Offs.
The partnership with The Football League builds on the popularity of the brand in England and shares our passion for football with fans and communities right across the country.
Clean Up Scotland Campaign
A.G. Barr urged other Scottish businesses to follow its lead and pledge support for the Clean Up Scotland campaign.
The campaign calls on the business community to join a coalition for action on litter and to support and protect Scotland’s natural environment.
Chief Executive, Roger White, joined 17 Barr employees in a community litter pick around the company’s Cumbernauld headquarters to show their support for the campaign.
Get a Grip Advert Launched
IRN-BRU treated fans across the UK to the first viewing of its latest Gets You Through ad; ‘Get a Grip.’
The ad tells the story of a mother who is left red-faced when she catches her oblivious teenage son working out.
Thankfully, she has a can of IRN-BRU to get her through the apparently awkward moment. The ad was the second from the Gets You Through campaign to be successfully launched in 2015, following the success of the ‘Train’ ad.
MP Opens News Look Offices
Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, opened newly refurbished facilities at our Middlebrook offices in June following the firm’s £92,000 investment in the site.
The move reinforced the long-term commitment to the local community by the Company.
The office refit has improved the working environment for over 80 Barr employees based at the site, working in Sales, Commercial Delivery, Marketing, IT, Consumer Care, Packaging, Customer Services and Research and Development.
£5 Million Investment In Cumbernauld Factory
We announced an investment of £5m in our Cumbernauld facility with the installation of new, high-speed filling capability for our glass bottle range.
The investment secures the future of Barr’s iconic 750ml glass bottle, ensuring that loyal fans can continue to enjoy their IRN-BRU and Barr flavours in glass.
The investment replaces Barr’s current glass line, which was almost 20 years old, with faster more efficient glass filling capability, and saw the energy-hungry returnable glass bottle washing equipment decommissioned. The investment brought an end to the returnable glass bottle scheme.
New Wind Turbine Supports Local Communities
We saw the first turn of the new wind turbine that part-powers the Cumbernauld-based factory, providing up to 8 per cent of the total electricity used on site.
The turbine is the tallest landmark on site; standing at over 70m tall. As well as generating environmental benefits, the wind turbine also supports the local community.
Employees nominated their preferred local charities to receive £6000 this year and will result in an estimated £120,000 being fed back into the community over the next 20 years.
New Advert Shows How to Cope with Awkward Christmas Gift
We revealed our Christmas advert. 'Jumper' shows how an IRN-BRU drinker handles getting a little extra surprise from his gran for Christmas. The new advert was released on social media and offered some light relief from the usual festive season's pressures.
Retailers Encouraged To Keep Scotland Beautiful
Our iconic IRN-BRU brand promotes an anti-litter message. We launched a new initiative encouraging retailers to support an anti-litter message in partnership with environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation. The ground-breaking initiative, led by the iconic IRN-BRU brand, promoted a strong anti-litter message. More than 3,500 local retailers from across Scotland are being encouraged to take steps to help improve Scotland’s environment.
Deal with Scottish Rugby Kicks Off
A.G. Barr was announced as the Official Soft Drink Partner of Scottish Rugby for the next three years, days ahead of the Scottish national team kicking off their RBS 6 Nations campaign.
The three-year deal sees A.G. Barr’s range of brands – including IRN-BRU, Scotland’s favourite soft drink, Strathmore Water and Barr Cola – support the Scotland national team, Scotland 7s team and the country’s two professional clubs, Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby.
A.G.Barr and SSE Hydro Take Scottish Entertainment to Fizzy New Heights
We became the Official Soft Drink Partner of the SSE Hydro, celebrating the deal with a phenomenal late night projection onto the iconic Clyde skyline.
The skyline was turned orange and blue, with Scotland’s favourite soft drink projected onto the Glasgow Armadillo The two Clydebuilt icons came together in a five year deal which sees the A.G. Barr range of brands – including IRN-BRU, Strathmore Water, Rockstar, Rubicon and Barr Flavours – support Scotland’s busiest and favourite entertainment venue.
£6 Million Investment and a New Look Irn-Bru
AG Barr announced an investment of £6 million in IRN-BRU, with a programme of activity that focused on two main platforms – national support for eye-catching new pack designs, and activation of IRN-BRU’s partnership with The Football League and the Scottish Professional Football League.
The new packaging reflects IRN-BRU’s most iconic symbol of the last 100 years – the girder – with a modern twist. IRN-BRU’s original strongman – Adam Brown – will also feature on-pack, drawing consumers’ attention to the brand’s rich history and heritage.
Barr Mix Ups Launched
Barr Mix Ups arrive, as AG Barr enhanced its reputation for exciting NPD with the launch of two new great-tasting Barr brand flavours chosen by the public.
10,000 consumers took part in a nationwide online vote for their favourite mix of the great tasting range of 15 Barr flavours, with winning ‘Raspberry Ripple’ and ‘Cherry Bubble’ polling more than 60% of votes cast.
The Irn-Bru Cup is Revealed
Scotland’s other national drink agreed the biggest signing of the summer as it was unveiled as the new headline sponsor of the revamped Scottish Challenge Cup – which was renamed the IRN-BRU Cup.
Following a decade of support for Scottish football, IRN-BRU’s long-standing backing of the beautiful game will continue, with a three-year sponsorship of the Cup, which also celebrated a fresh and exciting new format.