Ribena wants to build street cred

The "squeeza geeza" - a man who talks and behaves like a small boy - is the star of new advertising aimed at sustaining Ribena's place in the increasingly competitive soft drinks market.

The character is being used by GlaxoSmithKline to launch the drink in a sports bottle, pitting it against the energy drinks now vying for children's attention.

The company is putting £1.5 million behind a TV campaign breaking this week through Grey Worldwide London. MediaCom is buying media for the initiative intended to build the brand's street cred and increase its awareness among eight- to 12-year-olds.

The three commercials mark the first significant TV campaign the agency has produced since the arrival of Dave Alberts from Australia's MojoPartners as the executive creative director.

The brand , the UK's fourth best-selling soft drink, has suffered mixed fortunes in recent years, particularly as a result of the controversy surrounding Ribena Toothkind.

Attempts to rehabilitate the brand after criticisms of its effect on children's teeth suffered a setback two years ago when the High Court backed the Advertising Standards Authority, forcing GSK to withdraw claims that Ribena Toothkind "does not encourage tooth decay".

Since then the brand, whose take-home sales dropped 1 per cent to £154 million last year, has been focusing on flavour rather than health benefits.

In the films, the "squeeza geeza" is really a fortysomething who lives with his mother and is always being told off for not cleaning his room or for jumping on his bed.

He sees the sports bottle as a solution for the things children hate doing, such as standing still or sipping their drinks rather than guzzling them.

The ads were written and art directed by Paul Pickersgill and directed by Mark Denton through Therapy Films.

Alberts said: "I certainly think we've created something surprising for an ad about a Ribena bottle."