FWx Exclusive Interview: Clearly Canadian Reopens Preorders

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX CLEARLY CANADIAN

© Clearly Canadian

Last week, we brought you the news that iconic '90s soda brand Clearly Canadian was back in production and taking preorders via a crowdfunding campaign. Unfortunately, the company closed down the preorders earlier this month. However, due in large part to the interest sparked by the article, Clearly Canadian fans will get a second shot to get their hands on some. The company reached out to tell us that starting today, they are reopening preorders until June 10 via an IndieGoGo campaign.

Additionally, Clearly Canadian has created an “Unlock a Fifth Flavor” campaign. “Backers of both the original preorder campaign and the new stretch IndieGoGo campaign will be able to vote on the fifth flavor to be released,” said a brand spokesman. “They will choose between Green Apple, Coastal Cranberry, Summer Strawberry and Western Loganberry. If we hit $250,000, we will add this fifth flavor to our retail lineup when we start distributing nationally in 2016.”

Some bad news: Though we originally reported a ship date in August, the company says they are now targeting a September release. However, all preorders will be shipped before Clearly Canadian is back in stores, so those who buy through the preorder campaign will be the first to get their clear beverages.

We also got the opportunity to chat with Robert R. Khan, the venture capitalist who purchased the Clearly Canadian brand and has spearheaded its return. Here’s what he had to say about why he wanted to bring Clearly Canadian back to market, why things will hopefully work out better for the brand this time around and if we will ever see the elusive Orbitz brand.

Why Clearly Canadian? Why not relaunch...I don’t know, SKIDZ? Are SKIDZ still around?
Clearly Canadian is a part of North American culture and identity—just like San Pellegrino is to Italy or Perrier is to France. Saving Clearly Canadian is literally saving a part of ourselves: It is pure instinct. I do not know what SKIDZ is?

Probably best to forget about SKIDZ, anyway. As awareness of your campaign has grown, it seems interest has as well. Why do you think people have an attachment to Clearly Canadian?
Clearly Canadian is a part of the culture that made up Gen X and, to some extent, their parents. Like Coca-Cola or Snickers, Clearly is a cultural marker for millions of North Americans. But most people were completely unaware it was not still in large production, so it is very natural to want to bring back something that they identified with dearly growing up.

It may seem funny to millennials what the fuss is about, but throughout the '90s there was only Snapple and Clearly Canadian. Growing up, we didn't have the super-wide variety of choices that everyone does today when looking for an alternative beverage. Clearly Canadian was the first.

What is your personal attachment to Clearly Canadian as a brand? Do you have any fond Clearly Canadian memories?
I sure do; I would not have gotten involved if it was not personal. My mother used to stock Wild Cherry for me, and I would always try to drink it as slow as possible…given it only had 11 ounces.

Why a preorder campaign?
Crowdsourcing allows communities to be built in a way that was not possible 10 years ago for any myriad of reasons. Clearly Canadian already has an existing intrinsic community, but they had to be brought together, so that's what we are doing. As a brand, we are very big on community and shared experience, so it was the natural decision to crowdsource the revival.

What is your long-term goal for the brand? Do you see it getting back on store shelves? 
The goal is to bring Clearly to those who want it. What does that mean? We will see. If people want to see Clearly on store shelves, it will be important for them to ask for it at their local groceries. Without their direct involvement, everything is speculation.

We all know the line about those who do not learn from history. Why do think things can work differently for the brand this time around?
Let's be clear: Things worked great for Clearly Canadian until success led to some poor decision-making. We can look back on that history and take some very real lessons from it, which we believe we are. Clearly is returning to her roots: Staying focused on shared experience, great authentic products and not fixing what isn't broken—keeping balanced.

And of course, I have to ask about Clearly Canadian’s strange spinoff drink, Orbitz. What are the chances of bringing that back?
There is a chance—but a slim chance. We have a lot more research to do to make it happen; that production knowledge has literally been lost to the hands of time. 

Related: You Can Make Your Own Zima, So We Did 
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