Dick Maynard Column October 29, 2008

Rest in peace dear Zima; you won’t be missed

Eighty-sixed. Say good-bye to Zima. Last week Molson Coors announced Zima, its clear malt beverage tasting of Sprite gone bad, has been euthanized, put out of its misery or whatever it is manufacturers do to brands that sit way too long on retail shelves.

Not that I was ever a Zima-fanatic. I always agreed with the Advertising Age description, “Zima has the flavor of a slightly carbonated wine cooler with just a hint of Limon Pledge.” Still, the news of Zima’s demise took one back to the mid-90s, when Zima first came on the scene and an employee of our radio stations proclaimed it her drink of choice. But you couldn’t help looking twice when, prior to lifting a Zima on the rocks to her lips, she always added a Jolly Rancher or two to the glass. One couldn’t help thinking that while Zima might be new and different, any clear alcoholic concoction requiring hard candy to make the taste more palatable faced tough sledding in capturing the nation’s hearts, minds and taste buds.

Zima officially leaves the drinking scene on the last day of December. This must come as a bitter disappointment to the two or three people liking the stuff well enough to actually drink it. Here’s hoping you and your Zima can party hearty one last time New Year’s Eve.

Molson Coors Chief Marketing Officer Randy England issued a press release that said, “Challenging malternative segment sales and declining consumer interest” were the cause of the brand’s abandonment. Mr. England continued, “The decision was necessary to reduce complexity when it comes to our brand portfolio, allowing for more forward activity at retail on consumer-preferred brands.”

This is corporate speak for, “We couldn’t give the stuff away.” And what kind of a word is “malternative?”

Zima — it means “winter” in Russian — was supposedly brought to market in 1993 as an alternative for those who couldn’t stand the taste of beer. Unfortunately, by the time Zima was in full scale production, the under-25 male population had returned to beer as its frothy libation of choice, while lady friends cast their votes for Smirnoff Ice.

Of late, Zima and its ilk, collectively known as alco-pops, are marketed, almost exclusively, to the female half of the population. One blog, discussing Zima’s scheduled disappearance from the liquor scene, was headlined, “The End of Zima-Girly Men Panic.” I profess no real “foo-foo” drink knowledge.

An occasional Mike’s Hard Lemonade quenches a hot summer day thirst, but mojitos in a bottle have a “so this is what charcoal starter tastes like” quality best described as a crime against humanity.

While most imbibers found Zima’s taste somewhere between “you’ve got to be kidding” and “yuck,” the brand’s advertising was even worse. Remember, “Zima is Zomething different. Zo have one today.” In response to Zima TV ads continually substituting the letter ‘S” with a “Z,” shirts imprinted with the words “Zima Zucks” became a big seller.

Zo zay good-bye to Zima. It’s now been assigned to the dead beverage hereafter, where it will sit on heavenly shelves along side Coke II, Captain Morgan Gold, Hubba-Bubba Cola and Pepsi Clear.

Poor Zima, we hardly knew ye.


Dick Maynard can be reached via e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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