CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/TANGO - CHI believes being Tango'd is still the drink's greatest asset. Britvic's new Tango agency has not meant a change in tactics

"It could only have been a shoot for Tango,

Johnny Hornby, the co-founder of Clemmow Hornby Inge, says. "There were water-beds full of juice, porcupines wandering around snacking on orange peel and a man in a diving helmet being dropped to earth from a crane."

The campaign, which broke this week, is CHI's first for Tango - and will no doubt be subject to intense scrutiny from the creative community. The story of HHCL & Partners' ten-year hold on - and then loss off - the £9 million account has become almost as famous as the ads that the agency created.

HHCL's advertising propelled Tango into becoming the market-leading fruit carbonate in the early 90s, but the brand has suffered a devastating sales decline over the past two years after Coca-Cola began backing Fanta more heavily and holding strategy meetings entitled: "Kill Tango.

By August 2001, Tango had suffered a further 17 per cent sales slump on a 5 per cent fall seen in the previous year.

HHCL's retaliation was not strong enough, and a continuing slide in sales led the Britvic category director, Andrew Marsden, to rethink the relationship and call a pitch.

CHI's campaign shows two scenarios in which people attempt to recreate the fruit hit which comes from cracking open a can of Tango.

One man does indeed wear a diving helmet. It is stuffed with oranges, then an industrial magnet hanging from a crane above him is switched on, whisking him into the air.

He is then dropped to the ground, his helmet is opened and found to be dripping with orange juice and pulp. Far from being dead and mangled, the man is shown grinning with delight as he feels the "hit of the whole fruit".

The other bizarre spot shows a man wearing a tracksuit feeding oranges into a juicer attached by a pipe leading into an enormous water-bed. Once full, he climbs on top and waits for a porcupine to come in and pop his bed. It does, the bed explodes, and the man revels in his orange drenching.

Over the top of both spots is a crooning commentary on the action from a voice which sounds more accustomed to covering international snooker.

Hornby says the strategy was clear from the outset - to go back to the original brief to show Tango's "irreverent orange hit".

"We wanted to put the product slap bang back into the advertising, and went back to basics,

he claims. "When you get a new brief, the main temptation is to start with a blank sheet of paper. With Tango, it was different. There was no need to do that - the original premise from HHCL was the best."

While praising HHCL for inventing the brand personality, he thinks the core premise of keeping the product in the minds of consumers floundered over the years.

"HHCL effectively invented a new way of talking to consumers, and it was fantastic. But its fame and cult status overtook it, and it did take on a life of its own."

Marsden argues that his budget and a decade of building the brand in its current form would make it unfeasible to attempt any other strategy.

"We were completely open during the pitch about alternative strategies for the brand, but there's no point in throwing away Tango's history. Only an idiot would do that,

he says.

"We wanted to return to Tango's early roots, and we wanted to do it in a relevant way,

he adds. "There are no victims or dark elements in these ads, and we're still focusing on the high-juice content. This means they not only appeal to the youth market, but also to our other target audience - their mums."

Marsden points out that young mothers buying drinks for their children today are those who grew up with the original Tango spots.

He admits that CHI's initial pitch idea did not exactly hit the spot.

The agency invented a new, girly drink brand called Squirt, and created a hypothetical campaign which demonstrated the power of Tango by comparison.

"Their strategy was perfect - all about keeping Tango as an irreverent hit. But the creative idea sucked,

Marsden says.

Hornby, recalling the thinking behind it, says: "The whole point was to put cool, brilliant Tango next to this flimsy, US-type brand, which even had a crap little jingle. But the research showed people hated it. All we could do was laugh and go back to the drawing-board."

CHI's creative founder, Charles Inge, did just that and came up with the ads which broke this week, along with the former CDP art director, Pete Gatley, who worked on the "helmet

execution.

The decision was also taken to return to HHCL's endline: "You know when you've been Tango'd."

Far from seeing the decision to re-use the line as an indication of weakness, Hornby feels it to be one of the brand's strongest assets.

"It's the perfect line, and we wish we'd come up with it,

he says. "There's no point in wondering what the rest of the industry thinks at a time like this. We had to think about what would be right for Tango."

No doubt there will be some who will wonder whether CHI has moved on far enough creatively from HHCL's work, but Marsden says he trusted CHI's strategic and creative judgment completely.

"CHI is a young agency, but they have some of the best experience in the business,

he says. "Tango has had a hard time, and summer is a key season for us. We are in this for the long term against brands like Fanta, and this new work is the perfect vehicle for this message."