Has Lilt been cancelled? Coca cola rebrands tropical drink to 'Fanta'

Has Lilt been cancelled? Coca cola rebrands totally tropical tasted drink to ‘Fanta’ after adverts were accused of ‘cultural appropriation’

  • The tangy soft drink is being pulled from supermarket in the UK after 48 years
  • Fans of Lilt say the drink has been cancelled due to controversial past adverts
  • But others have shown support for the move, branding the adverts ‘racist’

Coca Cola has rebranded tropical fizzy drink Lilt after its adverts were accused of ‘cultural appropriation’.

The tangy soft drink is being pulled from supermarket in the UK after 48 years and will instead be replaced by a new type of Fanta featuring altered packaging and logo.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) confirmed the change in a statement yesterday, noting that it will now be known as Fanta Pineapple and Grapefruit – and to be available from today.

But fans of Lilt say the drink has become a victim of cancel culture due to its historic adverts, while others have supported the decision after accusing the brand of ‘racist’ marketing.

The drink became a feature of popular culture with its Lilt Man parody adverts in the late 1980s, while a decade later it was promoted by two Jamaican women known as the Lilt Ladies.

A second advert shows a local resident the beach handing out cans of the drink to tourists from a mango and mandarin stall – promoting a new flavour

In one advert, set in the Caribbean and released in 1981, a group of white tourists are seen enjoying the drink on a boardwalk at the beach.

A waiter who provides them with glasses of the fizzy drink also appears to be Caucasian, leading to accusations of cultural appropriation.

A second advert shows a local resident the beach handing out cans of the drink to tourists from a mango and mandarin stall – promoting a new flavour.

It shows the man being informed of ‘lobsters on the beach’, before driving to the scene to find sunburnt tourists.

Fans have accused the adverts of cultural appropriation and stereotyping, adding that the rebranding of the drink is the correct decision because of the adverts.

The slogan for Lilt for the adverts was ‘Totally Tropical Taste’. Fans fear the drink was cancelled

In one advert, set in the Caribbean and released in 1981, a group of white tourists are seen enjoying the drink on a boardwalk at the beach

But taking to social media, some fans labelled the move ‘a disgrace’.

One said: ‘Which woke group did Lilt upset for this nonsense to have to happen?’

A second said: ‘Can’t believe Lilt has gone woke. Is nothing sacred?’

A third tweeted: ‘I assume the world Lilt has been dropped because it has a different meaning nowadays, to that of 50 years ago and has offended some sensitive “oik” somewhere?’

But others said: ‘Roses are red, Mark King is a bassist, I’ll miss all the Lilt ads That were a tiny bit racist.’

Brinsley Dresden, a partner specialising in marketing law at firm Lewis Silkin, wrote in 2020 that the Lilt adverts displayed cultural appropriation.

He said: ‘On re-watching an old TV ad from 1981 for “Lilt, with the totally tropical taste” I was shocked to realise that while the reggae inspired soundtrack remains as fresh as the pineapples and grapefruit used to make the drink, there is not a single Black person in the ad. 

‘Even the waiter handing the glasses of the cool, refreshing Lilt to the beautiful young Caucasian people appears to be white, although it’s hard to be sure as only his forearms are in shot. But the cultural appropriation is clear enough.’

In 1998, two British Jamaican women – Blanche Williams and Hazel Palmer – became known as the ‘Lilt ladies’ and starred in its adverts

Soft drink Lilt is being scrapped as a brand after nearly 50 years on our shelves, it has been revealed

Meanwhile, Fanta was valued at £281million towards the end of 2022, more than 17 times that of Lilt – which managed sales of £15.6million over the same period.

CCEP said: ‘Keen Lilt fans may have spotted a gradual transition as the drink has made its way into the Fanta family over the past few months, with changes to its packaging and logo.

‘Some have even hypothesised on social media that Lilt may be becoming part of the Fanta brand, and one even went as far as producing their own news broadcast-style video.’

The firm’s GB vice-president of commercial development insisted the drink is the same, and simply has a new name.

Martin Attock said: ‘Our main priority with this announcement is to reassure Lilt’s loyal fanbase that absolutely nothing has changed when it comes to the iconic taste of the drink they know and love.

‘It’s still bursting with tangy tropical flavours, it’s just got itself a new name.’

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