Fans thirsty for a taste of ‘90s nostalgia – or those who are simply craving a citrus-flavored sparkling beverage with a kick – can rejoice in the news that SURGE is back after a 12-year hiatus.

SURGE, which debuted in 1996 and was taken off the market in the early 2000s, is making a comeback thanks, in part, to a passionate and persistent community of brand loyalists who have been lobbying The Coca-Cola Company to bring back their favorite drink over the last few years. SURGE is Coke’s first discontinued brand to return to the market.

The SURGE re-launch represents two additional firsts for Coke. The brand, which will be offered in its original formula in 12-packs of 16-oz. cans featuring the same retro design from yesteryear, is part of an innovative distribution deal between Coca-Cola and Amazon. A limited supply of SURGE will be sold exclusively through the online retailer at www.amazon.com/surge, marking the first time Coke has distributed a product solely through e-commerce.

“If expectations are met, this may be only the first of a variety of efforts we explore to launch niche products through e-commerce relationships,” said Wendy Clark, president of sparkling and strategic marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “This will be a great learning experience for us and a refreshing opportunity for fans.”

Teaming up with Amazon enables Coke to launch a brand online and closely monitor sales and inventory without taxing its distribution network.

“In this new era of marketing, we’re exploring segmented delivery of our portfolio to consumers,” adds Racquel Mason, associate vice president of sparkling flavors, Coca-Cola North America. “Previously, a smaller brand would never have had a realistic shot at commercialization. Now with Amazon, consumers can order a product like SURGE and have it delivered directly to their doorstep. It’s the democratization of demand.”

SURGE’s return also will be Coke’s first launch to rely solely on social and digital media. The brand will forego all traditional forms of advertising, including TV and out of home, allowing excitement to build online (follow the brand's journey on Twitter: @SURGE).



Blast from the Past

SURGE amassed a cult-like following in the ‘90s and early 2000s. “People loved its bright green color and bold citrus taste, as well as its quirky sense of humor,” explains Mason. “SURGE delivered a differentiated product experience, and we’re excited to bring it back.”

The SURGE fanbase has only gotten more vocal in the brand’s absence, spawning creative online fan groups including “The SURGE Movement,” which has amassed more than 128,000 Facebook fans in just a few years.

The three male Millennials behind the movement – Evan Carr, Sean Sheridan and Matt Winans – have pooled ideas and funding to prove to The Coca-Cola Company that demand for SURGE is stronger than ever.

The SURGE Movement raised nearly $4,000 in 2013 to buy a billboard (which they designed) about a half-mile from Coke’s Atlanta headquarters. The copy read: "Dear Coke, we couldn't buy SURGE, so we bought this billboard instead" and directed people to visit the movement's Facebook page.



Surge

The group also has organized "SURGE-ing days" where members called Coke’s consumer affairs hotline en masse to lobby for their beloved beverage’s return. In addition, they sent handwritten holiday cards to Coke asking to bring back SURGE for Christmas, created their own commercials on YouTube, and even landed a story on CNN Money.

Eventually, their creativity and passionate pleas caught the company’s attention.

“They’ve inspired us,” Mason said. “More than 128,000 people a dozen years after a brand left the market saying, ‘Please bring it back!’ That’s the best compliment any brand could hope for.”

When Coke decided to give SURGE an encore, the guys behind the movement were among the first to know. Earlier this month, Carr, Sheridan and Winans met for the first time at a surprise welcome party at Coke headquarters, which appropriately included SURGE t-shirts, products, ‘90s music and even a SURGE cake.

“This is the ultimate test… we’re leaving it in the hands of SURGE fans,” Mason adds. “Can 128,000 fans build and sustain a brand? We’ll see.”

Carr, for one, is optimistic. “I can't wait to read and see people’s reactions,” the 26-year-old San Jose, Calif. resident said. “There will be a lot of adults feeling like kids on Christmas morning.”

Stay tuned for an interview with the guys behind The SURGE Movement. And visit SURGE.com for the latest updates.