Anyone who spends some time exploring history will soon encounter the phenomenon of people discovering a new use for something that’s been around for quite a while. Often, the original company or persons involved can be quite flattered to see something they worked on getting a new lease of life.
Coca-Cola, for example, started out life as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca and was actually a cure for morphine addiction – indeed, the cocaine wasn’t removed from the product until 1903. Or frisbees were actually pie containers until mischievous students discovered a new use for them – namely to throw at each other.
But Lucozade weren’t so keen to be associated with a new use that people had found for the product in the late 1980s. Posting on the Raved In The 90s public group on Facebook, a member revealed how he received a letter from Smith-Kline Beecham all the way back in 1989.
The company, known as GlaxoSmithKline since 2000, owned the Lucozade and Ribena brands at the time – but have since sold both to Japanese drinks conglomerate Suntory in 2013. Having attended a number of illegal raves based near various parts London’s M25 orbital motorway at the time, the forum member wrote that “I was working in the orbital raves and noticing how popular Lucozade and Ribena were, wrote to the manufacturers to suggest exploring a partnership”.
He then posted a copy of the response he got, revealing they weren’t exactly keen on the idea…
The company’s reluctance to be associated with the burgeoning acid house scene wasn’t exactly surprising – it would have brought about no end of bad publicity for the business. Barely weeks earlier, Britain’s The Sun newspaper published a front page with the headline “SPACED OUT” – with a banner underneath saying “11,000 youngsters go drug crazy at Britain’s biggest ever Acid party”.
Nonetheless, the use of Lucozade and Ribena at acid house raves was well-known, even if the company wouldn’t officially acknowledge it – both drinks helped stave off dehydration, a very real risk for anyone using ecstasy at such events. However, the forum member did have one further comment to make – and it involved the launch of the Lucozade Sport brand in 1990.
He said it was launched “with a new logo and marketing to appeal to the rave generation”. Anyone taking a quick look on Google at images of those products in that era might be tempted to agree…