Jessica Alba Returns for Zico As Vita Coco Ditches Celebs

Dueling Coconut Water Brands Use Different Tactics In Quest For Growth

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Credit: Zico
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Jessica Alba is coming back for year two of Zico's "Crack Life Open" campaign. At the same time, competing coconut water brand Vita Coco is ditching celebrity ambassadors in favor of simplicity in its first global campaign, "Stupidly Simple."

The new summer ads come as the coconut water category continues to expand beyond the confines of shelves at Whole Foods and into the mainstream. Both Vita Coco and Zico saw gains in sales in recent years, according to Euromonitor International. Vita Coco sales grew from $320 million in 2013 to $421 million in 2014. Zico sales increased from $86 million in 2013 to $115 million in 2014.

Each brand will boost ad support behind the new ads, according to company representatives. Zico spent a little more than $8 million on measured media in 2014, while Vita Coco spent more than $1 million in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

Vita Coco will launch its first ever TV spot later this year, while Zico is expanding its multimillion dollar national campaign to more "digital, custom content and influencer programs across the U.S." said Zico spokeswoman Amy Driscoll.

Zico's campaign is by David&Goliath, which picked up the account in February after it was previously handled by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.

The brand is using Ms. Alba again because she juggles so many aspects of her life and is relatable to consumers, said Lorna Peters, Zico's chief marketing officer, and David&Goliath's Chief Creative Officer Colin Jeffrey. She "goes above and beyond for us," Mr. Jeffrey said. "This feels honest and in line with Zico."

The ads feature illustrations of floral designs from illustrator Adam Larson that accompany images of Ms. Alba in a white dress set to a blue backdrop. The campaign features lines such as "Feel beautiful on the inside" and "Flourish from the inside out."

The campaign will be supported with print, out of home and digital ads as well as experiential, Ms. Peters said. Zico is owned by Coca-Cola Co.

Vita Coco's "Stupidly Simple" campaign will launch this summer. "'Stupidly Simple' was born from a very authentic place," Jane Prior, Vita Coco's exec VP-global brand strategy and development said in a statement. "To us, it's much bigger than a tagline or a campaign. It's a mantra we want to share with consumers."

The campaign comes after the company recently cut ties with Saatchi & Saatchi. While the relationship ended, the campaign concept is credited to Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, and was executed by Madwell and Crossmedia in the U.S. and by Droga5 London and Mindshare in Europe.

The consumer base for coconut water has not been tapped to its fullest potential yet, said Vita Coco spokesman Arthur Gallego. "There's still so many people we can bring into this category," he said.

The campaign will be featured through out-of-home, digital and social in addition with its TV spot. We "didn't want anyone to overthink coconut water," Mr. Gallego said. "You should find simpler moments in life."

Vita Coco, which has been one of the leaders in the category since its inception in 2004, began advertising in 2010 with a New York-based, regional approach called "Nuts for Life." Since then, the company has gained celebrity attention from supporters including Madonna, Demi Moore, Matthew McConaughey and Rihanna, who was the company's ambassador in 2011 and 2012.

But the company is ditching the celebrity ad model in favor of one that "was informed by our history, our product, and our brand purpose and has now become an organizational philosophy at Vita Coco," Ms. Prior said.

"Celebrity association – with Madonna and Rihanna – helped build our brand and the category. We know that," she said. "But we're a culture that too often markets through celebrity and this year, we decided to focus on building equity in Vita Coco, with Vita Coco as the main focus."