Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sprite Launches 'The Spark,' Its First Global Ad Campaign

Four Years After Its Last Major Push in the U.S., Coke Brand Repackages, Loses 'Obey Your Thirst' Slogan

NEW YORK ( -- Sprite might be one of Coca-Cola's billion-dollar brands, but that doesn't mean it's gotten much love in the last few years. It's been almost four years since the brand has had a major advertising campaign in the U.S., and 16 years since the brand updated its tagline.
"Sprite was a strong growth brand for Coke throughout the '80s and '90s, and then it didn't get the attention it deserved in recent years," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, noting that Coca-Cola has been focused on things such as the launch of Coke Zero and the acquisition of Glaceau to the detriment of Sprite. "Even a big company like Coke can only focus on a limited number of things."

That's about to change, and it's just in time. Though the brand saw strong growth in the U.S. through the 1990s, going from 260 million cases in 1985 to 670 million cases in 1999, according to Beverage Digest, a series of ho-hum advertising campaigns and new Coke launches have diverted attention from the lemon-lime soda. By 2008, Sprite's volume had fallen to 537 million cases. Volume fell 3% in 2008 and 4% in the first nine months of 2009.

In a bid to boost the brand, Sprite is betting on its first global campaign. The push carries the tagline "The Spark," replacing the long-running "Obey Your Thirst" tag in the U.S. and some international markets. The campaign also introduces the brand's first global packaging design. In the U.S. and select global markets, the new logo replaces the stylized "S" icon that resembled the yellow-and-green yin-yang symbol and was introduced in 2006. The new packaging rolled out in the U.S. last spring and is now rolling out globally. Turner Duckworth, a San Francisco-based agency, worked on the logo.

"'Obey Your Thirst' -- we have not moved away from that proposition. We have executed that same campaign across time," said Santiago Blanco, senior VP-Sprite and flavors in North America. "What's relevant about this campaign is we're moving into a different proposition. ... Today there is a new generation of teenagers, so we also need to change."
Music, Film
The campaign will include eight spots, running in cinema and on TV and will have out-of-home, mobile and a robust digital component. There will be two stages to the push, the first focused on music and the second, launching in April, focused on film. Grammy nominee Drake is featured in the first spot, "Unleashed," which shows the hip-hop star struggling to find inspiration until he guzzles a Sprite.
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the spots.

Jay Chou, a Chinese singer-songwriter, video director Rik Cordero and an Indian actor will appear in subsequent spots. An online and mobile music mixer with content from Drake and an online digital film mixer are meant to appeal to Sprite's teen target. The "Spark" campaign will also have sport and dance tie-ins, through the brand's Sprite Slam Dunk contest, part of the NBA All-Star event, and Sprite Step Off, a collegiate stepping competition.

In the last two years, Coca-Cola has sought to create campaigns with global appeal in an effort to unify its messaging across markets. "The Spark" will run across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. It also marks the first creative from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which won the account early last year. Shay Drohan, senior VP-global sparkling brands, said there were several factors at work in that win. First, BBH's pitch began with digital. "It's not often that you have agencies come in and the first thing they present is digital and the last thing they present is TV," he said. "TV was the icing on the cake."

Mr. Drohan said that approach made it clear that Bartle Bogle understood Sprite's teen target. The agency also had plenty of global expertise to offer the brand. While the account is led out of New York, Mr. Drohan said some of the most interesting ideas have come out of the Mumbai, Shanghai and London offices, in addition to New York.

Coca-Cola execs challenge the notion that Sprite has been lacking for attention, pointing to the fact that, globally, the brand surpassed 2 billion cases for the first time last year. It's only the third Coca-Cola trademark to reach that milestone. "Sprite is growing around the world. We are consistently supporting it globally," said Mr. Drohan, noting that Sprite is a "huge" brand in China and developing quickly in India.
Declining spending
Added Mr. Blanco: "Our investment levels have been up, communications and sponsored campaigns have been up." According to Ad Age's Leading National Advertisers report, Sprite spent $27.1 million on measured media in 2006, compared to $12.5 million in 2007 and $16.3 million in 2008.

Though Sprite handily outsells it, in the U.S. PepsiCo's Sierra Mist has gained ground. That brand launched in 2000 and sold about 14 million cases that year, according to Beverage Digest. In 2008, the brand reached 140 million cases.

7Up, on the other hand, has struggled in recent years. Owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the brand sold 219 million cases in 1995, compared to 96 million cases in 2008. Part of the drop off can be attributed to the fact that 7Up was largely distributed by Pepsi bottlers who replaced it with Sierra Mist, said Mr. Sicher.

Bartle Bogle's freshman effort for the brand will be up against a long history of major campaigns from major agencies, some of which have proven more successful than others. In 1994, Lowe & Partners introduced "Obey Your Thirst," replacing "I like the Sprite in you," and catapulting the brand into the consciousness of American teens. In 2001, Sprite moved its business to WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, which asked "What's Your Thirst?" and worked with Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. In 2004, the agency introduced Miles Thirst, an African-American poet/philosopher action figure, who appeared in spots alongside Mr. James.

A year later, the business was handed to Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Crispin attempted to inject new life into the brand in 2006 with "SubLYMONal," a dreamlike series of ads and tie-ins with the ABC hit "Lost."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gillette Combines Lunar New Year With Valentine's Day for 'Moments' Campaign

BBDO Push Plays on Chinese Men's Added Pressure to Look Good Due to Overlapping Holidays

The campaign, created by BBDO, Shanghai, plays on Chinese men's desire to look good during the holiday for both girls and family.
SHANGHAI ( -- Procter & Gamble Co. is combining China's most important festival, the Lunar New Year, with one of the West's more whimsical holidays, Valentine's Day, to promote the Gillette brand among young Chinese men.

The timing of Chinese New Year, starting Feb. 14, gives P&G a "unique opportunity" to engage young men on an emotional level about the importance of being well-groomed, said Kevin Bogusz, a business director at BBDO Worldwide, Shanghai. The Omnicom Group agency handles creative for Gillette globally.

"We know it's a time when guys feel a lot of pressure to look their best for their family and friends," he said.

The campaign features a 60-second spot starring Olympic gold-medal badminton star Lin Dan, P&G's Gillette spokesman in China. The love story demonstrates how a smooth, clean shave with the Gillette Mach3 razor helps guys achieve a confident look that can make their Chinese New Year moments special with girlfriends, friends and family.

At the end of the film, the athlete proposes to his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, a holiday that has become popular among young Chinese.

The spot was originally created only to run online, on social-networking and video sites such as,, and, along with print ads and in-store promotions, but P&G later decided to run it on TV as well. The spot is also on P&G's Chinese website for Gillette, along with product news and information and bulletin boards that let consumers interact online.

Advertising Age Embedded Player

P&G hopes the strategy will appeal to Gillette's target market in China -- students and other men in their early 20s living in first- and second-tier cities. Those consumers are often job-hunting or have recently been hired.

They are also concerned about their appearance for more personal reasons. China's single-child policy has resulted in a gender imbalance, with Chinese men in their 20s outnumbering women. That means getting a girlfriend can be a challenge for many men.

"Gillette's core brand equity is about helping men look and feel their best," Mr. Bogusz said. This campaign "is more emotional than product focused, though. It strikes a balance between giving a functional message and building the brand in a different way."

Although the Gillette ad is a rare combination of the Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day, ads celebrating the arrival of Chinese New Year are common.

Spending increases heavily, particularly in the travel and tourism sector, as millions of Chinese return home from work or school for family reunions to welcome the year of the tiger. Retailers usually see a double-digit increase in sales in the weeks leading up to the new year as well.

Many marketers tap into this spending spree with campaigns connecting brands to family and friendship.
China's lunar new year is centered around family reunions.

P&G rival Unilever, for instance, tapped into the spirit of family celebrations, as well as China's unusually cold weather this winter, with a digital campaign for its Lipton milk-tea product line.

Unilever invited consumers to pick one of three films featuring mimes, schoolgirls or a rock band, upload a picture of their face, then share the image with friends by e-mail or via a branded microsite on Tencent's service.

A marketing high point of the Chinese New Year holiday will take place over four hours on Feb. 13, the eve of the Lunar New Year, during the CCTV Spring Festival evening gala.
The annual event draws so many viewers that its ratings are rivaled globally only by the Super Bowl in the U.S. and Europe's Eurovision Song Contest. Last year, the gala was watched by almost 35% of China's 1.2 billion population.

Reaching viewers doesn't come cheap, however. Ad revenues for this year's gala could net China Central Television up to $95.2 million, based on rate-card prices. Media buyers say rates for air time during the show have risen 30% in 2010 over last year's rates. A 10-second commercial during the New Year countdown reportedly costs $7.6 million. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Safe Sex: There's a Coupon for That

Just in Time for Valentine's Day, Trojan Offers Discounts

America seems ready to have sex again, and Trojan is there to help with high-value coupons.

Trojan's first foray into coupons is all part of a major Valentine's Day retail promotion, another first for the brand, Mr. Daniels said, amid signs things are looking up for condoms, vibrating products and other "sexual health" accessories. The promotion has included circular-feature and display support at many retailers who "have embraced the program," he said.

Though some other marketers had seen a trend toward "recession sex" last year as people with more time on their hands got frisky, Trojan wasn't seeing things that way.
Apparently, a year ago, any impact from people focusing more on not making babies because of the recession was canceled out by people having less sex all together. Sales were flattish, some consumers were trading down to lower-cost competitors and Trojan's tracking research showed signs of an actual decrease in sexual activity, Mr. Daniels said.

But the most recent four-week period data from Nielsen show a healthy rebound for the category, with sales up 7% from a year ago, and he said sales growth at untracked channels such as Walmart is running about double that.

Not surprisingly, Valentine's Day is one of the key holidays, along with New Year's Eve for the category, Mr. Daniels said. But, like sexual-health rival Johnson & Johnson also discovered, Mr. Daniels has seen that just about any three-day weekend, be it President's Day or Labor Day, tends to produce a sales bump and can be an excuse for consumers spend more time with their significant others and load up on sexual-health products.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

McDonald's Uses Olympics to Tout Smoothies, Food Quality

In Vancouver, Athletes Play Role in Ongoing 'Aha' Story

CHICAGO ( -- McDonald's is tapping Olympic athletes to help lend credibility to a message it has been pushing for the past four years: that it uses only quality ingredients.
Olympic skater Katarina Witt (center) promotes McDonald's smoothies at a media event in Vancouver.

The company today hosted a media event featuring Olympians Katarina Witt, Shawn Johnson, Picabo Street and Cassie Campbell to preview its smoothies, set to launch this summer, for assembled media in Vancouver. It's part of a push launched in 2006 to infuse its marketing in every country with messages about food quality.

McDonald's, which has been the official restaurant of the Olympics for more than 33 years, uses the games and its relationship with the athletes to highlight these messages -- and impress the media. The fast feeder works to make sure its best crew from around the world is behind the counter at the Olympic Village, by way of contests in each country.
Culinary story
This year, the athletes served as captains for teams of children from around the world who won contests in their home countries to attend the Olympics with a chaperon and write about it on McDonald's dime. The object for each team: create a delicious smoothie in 90 seconds. Shawn Johnson's team won gold with a strawberry pineapple smoothie.

"It gives us a great platform to highlight our food quality," McDonald's global chief marketing officer, Mary Dillon, said about the Olympics. Dan Coudreaut, a five-star chef and director-culinary innovation at McDonald's, said the Olympics lets the brand tell "another chapter of our culinary story." After six years at McDonald's he said he still has conversations with people who are shocked that "we make our hamburgers with 100% beef," or that the chain's parfaits are made with "real yogurt."

That makes straightforward conversations about natural ingredients all the more important. "The way we view it right now, telling the quality story is an everyday part of marketing core," Ms. Dillon said. "We find whenever we talk to our customers, there's still an 'aha' factor [to the quality story], whether it's in traditional or social media." And so these conversations will continue, she said, "because it's so critical to what people are looking for, and it's core to our brand around the world."

Long journey
The smoothies themselves, which launch in three sizes and two flavors -- strawberry banana and wild berry -- have been a three-year journey for McDonald's, which has been trying to figure out the right fruits that could be sourced in the right quantity and the right price. Raspberries, for instance, were going to be a little pricey this year, so Mr. Coudreaut and his team have created a berry blend with blueberries, blackberries and strawberries instead.
McDonald's also organized a Mom's Quality Correspondents panel in 2007 to address common concerns about the chain's food and how it's harvested, processed and prepared. The group of mothers traveled to farms, processing plants and restaurants to see fries and chicken McNuggets from source to table. The chain also hosts a microsite attached to, where consumers can see items like a Big Mac get made and learn about individual suppliers.

On the site, consumers can also ask questions about individual ingredients, and look at a series of answers already posted. For instance, in regards to how long cheese is left out before serving: "Our cheese goes through a process called 'tempering,' which means it is left on the preparation table for up to 2 hours. This is necessary to get cheese to the required cooking or serving temperature, and meets all USDA safety and quality standards." 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Visa's Going Big for the Olympics

Q&A: Five Questions for Global CMO Antonio Lucio

YORK, Pa. ( -- Longtime Olympic sponsor Visa is broadening its exposure this year, for the first time launching a global campaign tied to the Games.

The marketer first became a sponsor of the Olympics in 1988, the same year speed skater Dan Jansen appeared in his second Winter Olympics. He lost two races that year, but became an Olympic legend, holding the nation captive as he stumbled and fell just hours after learning that his sister had died. He returned to the Winter Olympics in 1992, finally winning a gold medal in 1994.

Now Visa is retelling his story in a just-launched TV spot that's getting kudos and confessions of tears. The ad is one of six in Visa's campaign, from Omnicom's TBWA, around its sponsorship of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver featuring athletes and their stories and the "Go World" Visa tagline.

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In a recent interview at Ad Age's offices, Visa's Antonio Lucio discussed the company's new, single-message, global Olympics campaign.

Besides being global, the campaign is a departure because it is more promotional and includes more digital elements than ever before, said Global CMO Antonio Lucio, including first-ever 3-D ads and YouTube channels, as well as promotions such as the chance to win tickets for life.

"We are a technology company and we've built a business based on innovation," Mr. Lucio said. "Whether it is the success of the debit card or anything we're doing on mobile and money transfer, we want to leverage the same innovative skills that we use on our products in our marketing."

Visa spent more than $1 billion in advertising, marketing and promotion globally in fiscal year 2008, according to its annual report. Global Olympic sponsors reportedly pay up to $100 million for a four-year Olympic period.

Mr. Lucio, who was accompanied by Mr. Jansen, visited with Advertising Age to talk about the new ad campaign, the Olympics and why it's a key part of Visa marketing.

Ad Age: Let's talk about the new Olympics campaign. You've blanketed Grand Central Terminal here in New York with the Visa Olympics and "Go World" message -- and I know there are San Francisco and Vancouver campaigns as well -- but why choose Grand Central as the main venue?

Mr. Lucio: The decision for New York was rather easy. It's the highest-trafficked station in the U.S. and probably one of the top five in the world. So having access to a great number of people was a great way to showcase our three-dimensional campaign for the Olympics. It is a first for Visa and it is a first for Grand Central Terminal. We are featuring two ads in 3-D; also we have 3-D posters that are backlit. The 3-D commercials run at very specific times during the day; the rest of the elements of the campaign are there all the time for the whole month. We have a group of people who are there giving out the glasses every time we're featuring the 3-D spots.

Ad Age: What are some of the other elements of the campaign?

Mr. Lucio: It's a very different year for us on several levels. First and foremost, it is our first global campaign for the Olympics. It leverages the success of our "Go World" Summer Olympic campaign and now we've made that global. It is [also] more promotional in nature. For the first time, we're devoting about 50% of our media buy to promotions. 
The third difference is that we're going more digital than ever before. We have a very significant purchase with YouTube -- we've created a channel where all the Olympic TV spots are going to be released first. We also have a very important component on Facebook. We've created a page that has links to the pages of all the Visa athletes, and in those pages, [you can] see what they're going through in their training, through videos that they themselves are taking, as well as in the games. It is the first time that we have a very comprehensive and significant digital strategy.

Ad Age: What is your return on investment? How do you figure out exactly what you're getting out of the Olympics?

Mr. Lucio: It is a significant investment, but one that we have proven time and time again delivers significant value for us. Remember, we are a public company for the first time. We had to renew the Olympics deal as a publicly traded company, which meant the highest level of scrutiny in our numbers and in our evaluation of what the Olympic Games represent for us in terms of business. We went through a very deep analysis and we were able to justify our investment in terms of revenues, global activations and in brand-equity indicators that show growth every time we feature the Olympic Games. We have 20 years of history so we have models of what our revenue lines do when we are featuring Olympic themes. We can actually identify the activations and transactions at our banks, and we very specifically measure all the brand-equity indicators, whether it is preferred brand or relevant brand. All the analysis that we've done has been very positive.

Ad Age: Is the Olympics more or less important now, when there is so much more noise out there, as a premier showcase?

Mr. Lucio: If you take into consideration what happened in Beijing, it actually broke rating records in the U.S. and across the world. It all depends on how good the games are, how well the U.S. team does, and the number of stories that are created around it that drive people to watch. Given the economic situation we're in, the markets are ripe for big events. People are spending more time at home. Take a look at what has happened with ratings on major shows like the Golden Globes or the Grammys. I would hate to forecast because I don't have a crystal ball, but I'm expecting great viewership of the games.

Ad Age: Off the Olympics topic, but as we're coming out of the recession, how does Visa handle that? Do you change your messaging or your media?

Mr. Lucio: We're beginning to see positive signs. Our numbers are a very close reflection of retail sales, for example. Remember, we've also got a diversified portfolio, which means we've seen significant growth in the debit business, and also more than 50% of our business is now (done) internationally. It is true that the U.S. is still immersed in a recession, but Asia, Latin America -- particularly Brazil -- and countries like Russia are growing in a very important way for us. As far as messaging is concerned, we maintain a cautious approach: We focus on selling product benefits a lot more, we focus on promotions because consumers require value, and we focus on brand and inspirational [messages], because God knows the nation needs a boost, and I think the Olympics will be great at that.

When it comes to media selection, we focus on investing on those media channels that deliver high return on investment, therefore our focus on digital. Finally, anything that we can do to drive synergies, we do. And I don't think that's going to change when the economy picks up. We have already identified a couple of countries and platforms even in the U.S. that we would be ready to increase investment in if things pick up in a significant way, and that's a big change from 2009.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Behind Kraft's Marketing Makeover: From New Ad Agencies to New Attitude

One of America's Oldest and Most Traditional Marketers Is Working to Update Its Packaging, Advertising

CHICAGO ( -- Quick: Name one highly creative advertiser. Bet your first choice wasn't Kraft.

The company that brought the world "My bologna has a first name" and "We helped!" for Shake and Bake is unlikely to ever go down in the ad annals next to Nike or Apple. But North America's largest food company -- about to become even larger with the addition of Cadbury -- is making strides toward updating the look and tone of its advertising while keeping it as accessible as possible for consumers.
KRAFT GOES NATURAL: Kraft Natural Cheese was repackaged in mid 2009 with heightened visibility of the word 'natural' in response to consumers' desire for less-processed, but still convenient, foods.
It's a mission that brought a large Kraft contingent to Cannes last year and it begins at the top 
with CEO Irene Rosenfeld. "All the way from Irene, the marketing is important," said Dana Anderson, senior VP-marketing, noting "the [creative] bar is higher." Agency vet Ms. Anderson is charged, along with CMO Mary Beth West and Mark Stewart, VP-global media, to step up Kraft's marketing game. It does have a strong heritage to defend: Kraft was one of the first national marketers, pioneering sponsored content on radio and TV.

Kraft is also putting its money where its mouth is by increasing marketing support. Spending has hovered around 7% of total sales, but media rates have fallen, and sales have grown to $42 billion in 2008 from $36 billion in 2007. Kraft reports full-year 2009 results next week.
Adding attitude to ads
Kraft's biggest splash to date is its much-lauded iFood Assistant app for the iPhone. But it's also revamped its consumer website and revised its Food & Family magazine, targeting consumers looking for immediate cooking inspiration with e-mail newsletters. Moreover, Kraft is attempting to add some attitude to campaigns for pedestrian products such as Miracle Whip, as marked by a recent effort that portrays the brand as a proudly quirky and almost defiant alternative to other spreads. The theme: "We are Miracle Whip and we will not tone it down." Former agency execs point to this idea as one that would have eventually been rejected as too edgy under the old regime.

Ms. Anderson said that as part of its "holistic" approach to better marketing, the ad department has worked to make its food look tastier and more real. Kraft Natural Cheese was repackaged in mid 2009 with increased visibility of the word "natural." It's a response to consumers' desire for less-processed foods that are still convenient, and Kraft has cut through the clutter, in part, with better artwork. The company consulted editors at Better Homes & Gardens and Gourmet, sending product shots for commentary.

Karen Adams, senior director-advertising, said her team on the Oscar Mayer and pizza businesses have actually worked to make the food look messier and therefore more believable. The goal is to have a story behind every picture of food. For instance, when Kraft launched Deli Creations sandwiches in 2008, the initial print work depicted a woman in a suit, standing, with bent arm holding a sub sandwich. "People don't eat sandwiches that way," Ms. Adams said. New ads show a construction-worker-in-hard-hat happily biting into a sandwich.

While that won't likely be a Lion winner, it does accomplish one goal of Kraft's: getting away from the hot dogs on china plates of old. "We don't want to see the aprons and tweezers [used in a food setup]," Ms. Adams said. "It's got to feel [to the consumer] like, 'I can do that.'"
Kraft has also changed the way it works with agencies. Concurrent with an aggressive reorganization that saw the company's biggest-spending U.S. brands shift to McGarryBowen and DraftFCB from JWT, Chicago, Kraft strives to give partners better direction along with the higher expectations and shorter lead times. "We have a little joke," Ms. Anderson said. "Fast can be beautiful."

The company was lambasted, before Ms. Rosenfeld's arrival, for relying too heavily on research and not taking enough risks. Ms. Anderson, who has worked with Kraft brands for decades, referred to the old way of doing business as having a meeting in which the resolution was to go think some more and reconvene at another meeting.

Said a former agency executive: "When you start from so far out you tend to make your conclusions quite early on, then you're trying to cover every base when you're producing the work, you round the edges off and it becomes vanilla and doesn't have anything really sharp."
Proud 'dinosaur?'
These days, Ms. Anderson said she may meet with brand managers and agency creatives for several days, meet with consumers, brainstorm and emerge much faster with new marching orders.

"They've really become more transparent in all of their needs that they've got in sharing information in a clear and concise way," said Tim Scott, president-McGarryBowen, Chicago. He added that Kraft marketers are engaged every step of the way.

Another former agency partner expressed skepticism that the entire Kraft marketing machine could have been changed in less than three years, especially one that "almost took pride in its 'dinosaurish-ness.'" However, the executive said: "It's hard to change a company like that but it would be churlish of someone not to give Irene her due for the changes they've made."

At the same time, too much change could be a bad thing at a company like Kraft. Another agency executive said that while the company has "advanced considerably" in the quality of marketing and the risks it's willing to take, being known as "old fashioned" can be helpful if you're selling cheese, mayo, deli meats and Ritz crackers.

"They wrote the book on old-school," the executive said. "They believe in integrity and family values. It sounds old-fashioned, but that's the company, and it's something to be proud of. Most people in this country still aspire to that."