Coca-Cola is accelerating its push to make Sprite the soda of choice among the younger crowd both here and abroad, with the brand's first integrated global campaign.
The campaign -- dubbed "The Spark" in reference to the brand's 2009-updated logo -- features hip-hop musician Drake and includes multiple TV spots, online music remixing and movie-creation tools, mobile, outdoor and print elements.
In addition, the brand is leveraging its NBA relationship via new efforts such as a new amateur dunking contest, as well as its step-team competition for college students.
The Spark campaign, from Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York, includes two phases -- one music-oriented, one film-oriented. Each will be supported by a variety of media.
Eight commercials will be aired in cinemas, as well as on TV.
The first out are 30- and 60-second versions of a spot called "Unleashed," featuring a merging of live video and an animatronic version of Drake getting inspired by a Sprite while singing his hit song "Forever." (The animatronic model took eight weeks to create, and the commercial as a whole took 14 weeks, according to Coca-Cola). The spot debuted during this year's Super Bowl pre-game telecast. Fans can also view an online behind-the-scenes video about the making of the commercial and its special effects.
Other "Unleashed" versions, for international markets, feature singer/songwriter Jay Chou and an Indian actor. Film-oriented commercials will feature a "Fusion" theme and star Chou and film/music video/commercial director Rik Cordero.
The digital campaign begins with the March 1 launch of an online tool (the Sprite Spark Music Project) that will let teens do remixes and mash-ups of "Forever." In April, a micro-site (Sprite Spark Film Project) will enable users to create their own 45-second animated movies from a selection of clips.
The campaign also includes an iPhone app enabling mobile access to the music mixer and remix tracks (and the ability to turn favorite remixes into ringtones), as well as billboard and print executions featuring Drake, Chou and Cordero.
The campaign's numerous components are "designed to empower teens to play, experience and interact with our brand and feel their creativity come to life," summed up Katie Bayne, CMO, Coca-Cola North America.
On the NBA front, Sprite -- a sponsor since 1994 -- is adding an amateur dunking contest, the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown, to its popular Sprite Slam Dunk, which features the league's top players competing in a dunking competition. The pro dunking match (which lets fans text-vote to help choose the winner) will air on NBA All-Star Saturday Night (Feb. 13); the amateur contest on Feb. 12.
Meanwhile, through March 7, MTV2 is airing a six-episode docu-series, hosted by Ludacris, following six of the fraternity/sorority teams that competed in the Sprite Step Off. The national step team competition (more than 20 events across the country) was launched last year and wraps up with a tournament this month. The first episode of the series, aired Jan. 31, pulled the highest ratings for a new MTV2 show since 2006, according to the network.
Sprite -- the leading lemon-lime sparkling brand among multicultural teens/young adults -- sponsored a prize pool totaling $1.5 million in college scholarships for the Step Off program, as well as appearances by popular hip-hop artists at the events around the country. The program also aimed to encourage service among college students. The Sprite Step Off Service Challenge asked individuals and organizations to donate 1.5 million community service hours, focused on "educational empowerment."
Sprite's ad spending in measured media was about $25 million as of 2008, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.