Events, Social Media Link Odwalla To Young Actives


How does a brand become part of the lives of young, health-oriented consumers who spend more of their time engaged in outdoor activities and the social scene than watching the tube?

For Odwalla, the healthy smoothies and fruit juices brand acquired by the Coca-Cola Company in 2001, close integration of social media and targeted events is paying off, according to Chris Brandt, VP, marketing for the brand.

While Odwalla's marketing mix includes some traditional media advertising, as well as PR and in-store POS, a primary thrust in recent times has been making a splash at festivals that draw large numbers of young actives, and using social media to engage them before, during and after those events.

"As a brand that was actually created by three musicians in 1980, music and out-of-the-ordinary experiences that showcase the uniqueness of Odwalla and its fans are a natural focus for us," sums up Brandt. That "uniqueness" message is the core of Odwalla's current umbrella campaign, dubbed "Campaign Against Ordinary," which was launched in March, along with a redesigned, heavily interactive Facebook fan page.




A prime example of the strategy is underway now, as Odwalla gears up for the Aug. 14-15 Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

Odwalla's on-site presence will be anchored by a "Fresh Experience Lounge" -- a 40-foot-by-40-foot tent that's hard to miss. Once inside, attendees are immersed in a fanciful, "fresh"-themed world that includes a colorful, 3D, upside-down ceiling landscape featuring a cow grazing near a pond.

Lounge visitors can sample the brand's large range of beverages and nutritional bars, use on-site computers for social media networking/ email, enjoy DJ's and other entertainment, and -- if so inspired -- get up and advocate the brand on a podium, or give an impromptu performance of their own, using provided musical instruments/ amplification equipment.

A core component of the social media tie-in is a "Living Flavor Vending Machine (LFVM)" -- a large mobile stage that looks like a vending machine, installed within the lounge. Between July 12 and 29, Odwalla ran a "Rock the Bay Ticket Giveaway and Contest."

The contest encouraged fans to submit videos, through a "Fresh Stuff" tab on Odwalla's Facebook page, that showcase their talents (any act that's "unique, positive and entertaining"). The winners will perform live on the LFVM stage during the Outside Lands event, and also receive two VIP event tickets. Contest entrants were also encouraged to ask friends to check out their Facebook-posted videos and in turn share them with others. Brand fans who are not inclined to perform could enter a sweeps, also through the "Fresh Stuff" Facebook tab, for a chance to win a pair of Outside Lands tickets.

The substantial pre-event awareness build-up and consumers' desire to see other Odwalla fans perform will, of course, help enhance the brand's traffic and presence during the festival. Outside Lands -- which features food from the Bay Area's top restaurants and fine wines from local wineries, as well as top bands (and ample technology and other sponsor exhibits) expects to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 attendees (mostly 21- to-40-year-olds) during each of its two days, according to Richard Goodstone, co-founder of Superfly Marketing Group*, the production/entertainment agency behind the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival as well as Outside Lands, which also creates cross-media Gen X and Y-targeted campaigns*.

Odwalla is making its second appearance at Outside Lands, and also made its second appearance at this year's four-day Bonnaroo event in June in Manchester, Tenn. (where it launched its LFVM stage).

Odwalla started its 2010 major events lineup in April, by debuting its new lounge at the three-day, Goldenvoice-produced Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., which reportedly drew about 75,000 people per day. For that event, the brand used Facebook to give away a pair of tickets every day for 20 days.

For Odwalla, all three events offer the young, "unique experience," eco-conscious environment that mesh with its brand message, and Outside Lands brings in a fine food/wine component, as well, notes Brandt.

Odwalla's integrated events/social media efforts (which also include a Twitter presence and sponsorships of marathons and other active events) are serving to build brand awareness and engagement -- Facebook fans are up fourfold, to about 35,500 since the efforts started earlier this year, says Brandt. They are also used to reinforce the brand's quality and the "difficulty of replacing our nutritious, energy-boosting smoothies with any other beverage," and to support an ambitious number of new line extensions, he points out.

For example, in September, Odwalla's Superfoods line will add a "heart healthy" variety, and its nutrition bars line will add two new flavors (Blueberry Swirl and Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Protein), reports Brandt. Its 18-month-old Protein Monsters line now has 11 SKU's, including a strawberry beverage launched in April, and brand offerings also include energy- and focus-boosting drinks, a Wholly Grain variety, and stevia-sweetened lemonade/limeade beverages. Innovation is critical in the increasingly competitive smoothie/fruit juice category, which was affected by the recession, in large part because these beverages' relatively costly ingredients require higher pricepoints than most RTD beverages. (Odwalla's suggested retail is $3.29.) "After seven years of significant growth, the category softened in 2008," acknowledges Brandt.

Information Resources, Inc. reported category growth of 44%, 42% and 24% between 2005 and 2007, but just 13% growth in 2008, according to And as of mid 2009, Nielsen showed Bolthouse Farms running neck-and-neck with Odwalla in market share, with PepsiCo's Naked following.

However, Brandt reports that the category has taken an upturn this year, and Odwalla's sales are up over last year.

Odwalla also connects with young actives through special initiatives. In one Facebook-based program, fans vote for their favorite states to trigger the planting of trees in state parks. In another, the "Haiti Hope Project," Odwalla is donating 100% of profits from sales of its Mango Limeade to help Haitian farmers build a sustainable mango industry.

* Editor's note: The story was amended post-publication.

1 comment about "Events, Social Media Link Odwalla To Young Actives ".
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  1. Mario P Cloutier, August 2, 2010 at 2:29 p.m.

    Love the LFVM idea. Will be on the lookout for results.

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