Is That Mr. T Wearing Butterfly Wings?

'80s Icon Teams Up With Fuze For Iced Tea Campaign

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Fuze is bringing a new kind of tea to the tea industry -- Mr. T.

The former star of '80s hits like "The A-Team" series and "Rocky III" has brought his Mohawk and brawn to Fuze's newest campaign, ­­"Flavor-Charged Iced Tea." The campaign launched this week and will continue until October.

The Coca-Cola-owned brand's new spot features a winged Mr. T complimenting a woman on her choice of Fuze Iced tea with his signature brash yell. Donning a highlighter green cutoff T-shirt, gold chains and a pair of Monarch butterfly wings, the miniature version of Mr. T says the beverage's boldness only falls behind Mr. T himself.

"We were looking for somebody with high awareness, high likability and certainly a connection with someone who has a big, bold personality. Mr. T came back at the top of the list. In fact, "he pitied us for not calling him sooner," said Geoff Henry, group director-tea, Coca-Cola North America.

Mr. Henry said that the '80s icon is "fitting the bill for us perfectly" and in a statement, the brand said that the "T" in Mr. T's name "was the knock-out punch."

Mr. T can be seen in the brand's weekly Friday videos that are aimed to provide lighter content going into the weekend, Mr. Henry said. The videos will be promoted through both organic channels and various media platforms, particularly social.

Fuze is working with California-based Lambesis on the campaign, which will also launch out-of-home ads and experiential sampling. The brand is still evaluating whether or not to pursue TV and print advertising for the campaign, according to Mr. Henry.

Lambesis has also worked on campaigns for other Coca-Cola brands such as Dasani, Honest Tea, and Gold Peak Tea and Coffee.

According to Kantar Media, Fuze spent just over $10 million in 2013 and 2014 on measured media. By contrast, Coca-Cola's Gold Peak Tea spent more than $19 million on measured media in 2014 and its Honest Tea spent approximately $780,000 on measured media in 2014. Mr. Henry denied comment on the cost of the campaign.

It seems as if Fuze could use a boost: The brand took in nearly $125 million in sales in the U.S. from the 52 weeks preceding May 17, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, down 18.2% from the same period a year earlier. The brand is sold in various outlets including convenience stores, supermarkets and many other retail stores.

Mr. Henry said the brand elected to go with a "digital at the center" approach for the campaign to reach a millennial audience, which he said is a large part of Fuze's consumer base. Mr. Henry said Coca-Cola is using the Mr. T videos as an outlet to draw consumers in. The videos will run on YouTube, Spotify and Xbox, according to a press release.

So why use Mr. T to reach millennials, who weren't even born when "The A Team" ruled the airwaves? Mr. Henry cited his "expressive personality that millennials appreciate," and added that Mr. T will raise awareness and appeal for older generations as well about the brand.

"We are looking to drive awareness, connection and trial for the brand in the iced tea space," Mr. Henry said. "I think Mr. T with his big, bold personality as a butterfly is something that consumers are being delighted by."