The Rock's ZOA Drink Sells 'Big Dwayne Energy," But Stumbles In Execution


Dwayne Johnson’s ZOA Energy brand is hyping the drink’s “BDE” -- or “Big Dwayne Energy” -- in its latest appeal to consumers navigating the crowded energy drink category.

Founded by Johnson alongside his ex-wife. entrepreneur Dany Garcia, ZOA Energy launched in 2021, in partnership with Molson Coors. The brewing company expanded its minority investment in ZOA last September, following a brand refresh earlier in the year. Now the brand is introducing the new positioning in a wide-ranging campaign.

“Big Dwayne Energy,” the launch ad at the center of the campaign, was created in partnership with agency Haygarth, and set to the hit song "Big Energy," by the Grammy-nominated Atlanta rapper Latto.



In addition to the video, the campaign also encompasses shopper marketing efforts across a variety of channels, including digital, OOH, and paid social, and will be supported further through a series of activations throughout the year, including an UFL partnership, influencer partnerships, social media contests and promotions, and experiential marketing activations.

The campaign’s launch ad centers around the brand’s promise of providing “Big Dwayne Energy” to empower people to accomplish a variety of objectives -- from aerobic feats to performing surgery. To illustrate the concept, the everyday characters of the ad are transformed into Johnson, before ending on a self-effacing note with Johnson conversing with a version of himself as he appeared in the ‘90s.

“I wanted to create a campaign where I could look as ridiculous as possible and put me in these ridiculous outfits and clothing that I would still have fun in," Johnson told People about the campaign.

The ad stumbles into some questionable territory when Johnson turns into a woman juggling work and parenting, with the character’s outfit -- including a frilly pink top with matching hair accessory, and fluffy rabbit slippers -- seemingly chosen to present a type of hyperfemininity used as a cheap sight gag. The moment is off-putting, and could be seen as crossing the line into lazy and harmful tropes as outdated as The Rock’s ‘90s outfit.

Given how content is spread online through memes and social media, it’s easy to imagine the image being used for hateful  purposes --  which could raise brand safety concerns.

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