V Energy Drink is a powerhouse brand in NZ. It’s the only country in the world where Red Bull (RB) does not have the #1 market position.
But heading into 2015, there were storm clouds gathering...
The category was coming under increasing scrutiny due to their ingredients, particularly amongst young Kiwi males (the main consumers of energy drinks).
Adding to that, was RB’s aggressive pricing strategy, designed to buy back share from V, which combined with RB being the pre-eminent “brand-as-content-publisher”, made the competition to win the hearts & minds of these drinkers that much tougher.
Over the previous two years, the brand had built a close relationship with high profile TV/Radio personalities Jono & Ben (J&B). From crashing golf carts into their studio desks during a live-recording, to bringing over Vanilla Ice for a one-off concert, it’d been a highly charged, albeit tactical, relationship.
J&B host the highest rating local radio drive and TV comedy shows – making them incredibly influential within the target group.
The affinity between V drinkers and J&B is strong. Not only do they share the same sense of humour, but V drinkers resonated with the ‘mateship’ that J&B have. That element of intense (but inevitably friendly) pranking of each other is embedded within young Kiwi culture.
So OMD connected these two insights together:
- V was losing the ‘share of mind’ battle against RB & losing cultural relevance for young males
- J&B have a strong cultural connection with young males & energy drinkers through their ‘have a go’ mentality.
The opportunity became crystal clear: leverage the shared maverick, mischievous & witty brand values of both parties to build a deeper more emotional connection with the audience. In turn, this would enhance V’s ‘share of mind’ in a down to earth, relevant and local way – something Red Bull would struggle to do.
Key to creating a cultural connection is not only fit but also the mass, simultaneous reach and conversation that comes with traditional media platforms such as TV and Radio. Jono and Ben had the most popular drive show on radio and their TV show was the top rating local comedy against this audience.
The relationship needed to move beyond tactical integration to a truly deep, commercial partnership. It needed to do more than to simply hand the brand over to J&B. J&B had to become the brand. And for the brand to become J&B. This meant giving J&B full license to tell the V brand story in their own authentic style, which resonated so strongly with its (and their) audience.
To truly bring J&B into the brand it needed to live in all of their environments – through TV and Radio, and they needed to live in V’s – in store and on pack.
The idea was a competition between J&B: which of them could create a more successful V flavour.
J&B went through all stages of product development, including a factory visit with V’s R&D team, where video and audio content was captured for their TV and radio shows.
A fully integrated approach was launched, as the boys set about rallying the nation to buy their product:
- On pack designs and copy
- POS artwork featuring images of the boys, crucially providing cut through against price positioning of rival brands
- Branded TVCs for both, explaining why their flavour was better
- Weekly in-show TV segments
Once launched, J&B’s social media pages went nuts. The campaign quickly moved from paid to earned media, with the public taking up the challenge of photographing their favourite flavour. The story continued with bespoke content for TV, radio, digital.
The winner and loser was announced on the TV show with the loser being forced to listen to the same Justin Bieber song on repeat for three days.
Jono V Ben was the most successful new product launch in V’s proud history: a total of 2.232m units sold over the campaign period.
This equates to 4.37 cans for every Male aged 18-34 in New Zealand over the campaign period!
The campaign grew the entire energy category by +2.5% over the campaign period (as a comparison, there was a 0.5% category growth in the previous quarter).
Within this, the V brand was up +5.2% over the campaign period.
The sales of J&B cans drove combined V share over this period to 63.7% of market, and Frucor’s overall share in Energy in Oils to 64.8% - its highest level for 11 quarters.
The key Oils channel, where premiums are higher, experienced 12.3% growth vs. previous period.