Blue Marlin wins Irn-Bru pitch

Scottish soft drinks group AG Barr has appointed design consultancy Blue Marlin Brand Design to redesign the packaging for the entire product range of its iconic Irn-Bru brand.

The consultancy won a four-way pitch, managed by Irn-Bru head of marketing Adrian Troy. The pitch is understood to have involved incumbent Leeds-based The Spirit Of, Dragon and a fourth unknown group.

Blue Marlin has been handed a brief to bring back some of the passion that is being lost in the brand and to make it a point of difference against other fizzy soft drinks.

In addition, the consultancy is tasked with promoting the potential of the brand.

Martin Grimer, executive creative director at Blue Marlin, says, ‘Iconic brands create such a creative opportunity. The brand has enormous passion in Scotland. We want that passion to be exuded to the rest of the country, to ask how the brand can stand apart from other players and use the Scottish idiosyncrasies. We want to make it accessible and credible’.

Irn-Bru has encountered several changes over the years, including a corporate logo redesign in 1993 by Coley Porter Bell, and a packaging update in 2001, which aimed to ‘achieve greater differentiation between standard and diet variants’, according to its website.

Last March, The Spirit Of designed the brand’s 32 energy drink packaging. The spin-off was launched to go head to head with Red Bull, Coca-Cola’s Relentless and Sprite 3G.

The fizzy drink has been supported by many well-known marketing campaigns, from the early Cambridge rower and the strong man to the Girders TV campaign in the 1980s.

Its latest campaign featured a student being tormented by a Glaswegian man in a cuckoo suit, which received complaints to the advertising watchdog that it was ‘violent and aggressive’, but escaped a ban.

‘There is a lot of history; it is a very old brand,’ Grimer adds. ‘We went to the factory and found out about its secret recipe, so we really learnt and know what those properties are so we can express the brand.’

The new packaging is due to launch by the summer.


• The brand was launched in 1901, when the name was spelt Iron Brew. The name Irn-Bru was introduced in 1947
• In 1969, a new Irn-Bru label was introduced, while in 1979, PET packaging was unveiled and replaced plastic bottles
• Coley Porter Bell carried out a corporate logo redesign in 1993 and the brand had a packaging update in 2001
• Last year, The Spirit Of designed the brand’s 32 energy drink packaging

Latest articles