The #1 red soda brand Big Red is returning to TV for the first time in more than 25 years, as part of a new "Tastes Good to Be Different" integrated campaign.
The campaign celebrates the nearly 75-year-old brand's "indescribable flavor" and its fans, who "like being different." (The advertising's sub-tagline: "Taste It. You'll Get It.")
While Big Red is distributed in 44 states, its strongest markets -- in Texas (corporate headquarters is in Austin), Louisville, Ky., and Southern Indiana -- hark back to its roots, says VP, business development Thomas Oh. The campaign, focused in seven markets -- Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Houston, Indianapolis and Tampa -- coincides with and supports a sampling push to build awareness for expanding distribution in those markets.
Targeting the 18-to-34 demographic, the campaign spans social media, out-of-home and in-store promotions, as well as sampling and television -- all of which feature a refreshed logo/package design.
"The packaging had not been updated since 1997, and consumer feedback was that it was somewhat dated and cartoonish and didn't look very premium," says Oh. The new look includes a logo featuring a sleeker "splash" motif backing the now-shadowed Big Red name, as well as a new product description line: "So sweet, so smooth." (Replacing the brand's traditional "Big Red Instead Since 1937.")
The campaign's two TV spots will begin airing on network cable in the target markets on July 11 in rotation, in two three-week flights. But the brand's Facebook fans are getting sneak previews of the spots.
The first spot, posted on Big Red's Facebook page on June 28, features a Robin Hood-like character who uses Big Red to start street parties. The second (to be released online next week), was shot at Hollywood's famous Whisky A Go-Go club, and follows a high school music student who becomes a rock star by deriving inspiration from Big Red.
The commercials were produced by GeniusRocket. The agency uses a crowd-sourcing video production model that enabled Big Red to get more than 30 concepts and full production of the spots for "a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising agencies," reports Oh, whose background includes PepsiCo marketing positions. GeniusRocket sent a brief and some concept guidance to select creative agencies within its extensive network, and Oh interacted with these during their process to help them ensure that their concepts and concept development were on target.
"With no TV ads for 25 years, we had no TV creative history for them to reference," so the "curated" crowd-sourcing model used for Big Red -- as opposed to just sending out a brief with no interaction during the creative process -- provided the right balance of creative freedom and guidance, Oh explains. He and GeniusRocket narrowed down the delivered concepts to two, and worked to tweak and perfect those prior to production.
On the social media front, Big Red currently has about 85,000 fans who have come to the brand organically, and has continued to add about 1,000 per week with little active effort on the brand's part, Oh says.
However, the brand is now pumping up Facebook efforts. Having just begun distribution in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. market, Big Red reached out to Facebook fans to get volunteer ambassadors in the area. Those fans were sent six cans of the soda -- one for themselves, five to give to friends -- with the request that they take photos of the gifting occasions and post them on the Facebook page. Those "guerrilla" efforts are supporting the sampling efforts of the soda's distributor for the region, Pepsi Beverages Company.
On a broader scale, Big Red is employing Facebook advertising in the seven markets to target specific fans, with particular emphasis on those who have moved from its biggest markets into these regions, and may not be aware that Big Red is available in their new areas, says Oh. Other targeting will include serving up ads to fans based on specific interests in their Facebook profiles (for example, being into barbequing, because Big Red and BBQ are a popular combination).
Big Red also has teams of "guerrilla" brand reps out in the seven markets distributing samples in parks and other community hubs and at events such as festivals and barbeques, Oh reports.
Privately owned Big Red, Inc. is among North America's top 10 beverage companies. It also markets Diet Big Red, Big Blue, Big Peach, Big Pineapple, NuGrape and products under the Nesbitt's brand. Its largest distributor (about 75% of volume, according to Oh) is Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Independent Bottlers, as well as Pepsi Beverages Company, are its other distribution partners.