Updated: Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:21 | By Agence France-Presse

Orangina creator dies aged 88

Jean-Claude Beton, the man who turned the fizzy drink Orangina and its famous bulbous bottle into a global brand, has died at 88.


Orangina creator dies aged 88

Orangina bottles pictured at a factory in Meyzieu, France on May 4, 2001

His death, on Monday, was announced by the mayor of Marseille, Jean-Claude Gaudin, who hailed Beton as a "genius inventor who was in the avant garde of advertising and marketing, an entrepreneur who helped put Marseille on the world map."

Beton was born into a prosperous family of shopkeepers in French-ruled Algeria on January 14, 1925.

It was his father who produced the first bottle of Orangina on the basis of a recipe concocted by a chemist in Valencia, Spain.

The original ingredients were concentrated orange juice, fizzy sugared water and a teaspoon of essential oils.

The family knew they were on to a winner but plans to develop production on a mass scale had to be put on hold as a result of the Spanish civil war and World War II.

After studying agricultural engineering, Beton dusted off the recipe in 1951, created the distinctive bottle and added a small amount of pulp to the formula.

Graphic artist Bernard Villemot, meanwhile, produced the distinctive original label of a parasol and a bistro table with a bottle of orangina on it, set against an azur sky.

The new bottle and its distinctive advertising jingles, all based on the notion that you had to shake it before serving to mix up the pulp, quickly gained a large market in north Africa.

With Algerian independence looming, production was moved to Marseille in 1961. Decades of growth were to follow before the Orangina brand was finally swallowed up by drinks giant Pernod Ricard in 1984.

Beton was seen as a paternalistic boss, notably granting his workers a reduced 39-hour week before it became standard in France in 1982.

After selling the brand he had created, he indulged his passion for wine, acquiring Chateau Ormeau in the Lalande-de-Pomerol area of Bordeaux.

Orangina meanwhile went through several hands, including Cadbury Schweppes, and was then taken over by Japan's Suntory in 2009.

The Orangina Schweppes group now has an annual turnover of 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) and employs 2,500 people worldwide, including 600 in France.

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