Sprite Steps Away From Hip-Hop, Refocuses on 'Lymon' Roots

Coca-Cola Moves to Stop Brand's Slide With Relaunch Effort

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Coca-Cola Co. is employing a back-to-the-future strategy to revive its ailing Sprite brand with a campaign that reprises the drink's "lymon" roots.
New creative for Sprite from Crispin Porter feature dreamlike visuals ... and sumo wrestlers.
New creative for Sprite from Crispin Porter feature dreamlike visuals ... and sumo wrestlers.

Although it's still the leading lemon-lime soft drink, share for the No. 6 brand has steadily slid in recent years, despite its prior hip-hop-laced campaign starring character Miles Thirst. Looking to inject effervescence into the brand and its "Obey your thirst" tagline, the beverage marketer last year traded agency Ogilvy & Mather, New York, for Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami.

Dreamlike ads and viral
The result is a relaunch effort, which is aimed at teens, set to break May 23 with new packaging that updates the logo with a stylized "S" icon, reminiscent of a yellow-and-green yin-yang symbol, and dreamlike advertising and viral components.

Five cinema spots (four 30-second and one 60-second) feature creative that rapidly cuts from one bizarre scene to the next with special codes and visual rewards in between scenes. "Welcome to 'SubLYMONal' advertising," declares a voice over for each spot. "For best results, do not blink."

Among the more surreal scenes is a lab-like "spa" where a man, putting a lemon slice on one eye and a lime slice on the other, is fed drops of the beverage from a tube suspended over his mouth. The tube moves over his eye and he flips off the slice, revealing a mouth and tongue that take in the drops.

Another spot shows two sumo wrestlers -- one painted yellow, and the other green -- who rush toward each other and crush a seated man when they crash together.

'DVR Ready'
Far from subliminal, the spots have accompanying text that reads "DVR Ready," inviting people to record the spots to find their imbedded content. The spots close with the line "SubLYMONal Message Complete" and a shortened tagline, "Obey." Consumers are directed to the brand's Web site, sublymonal.com, to enter codes for additional content. Other elements include print and outdoor creative from Crispin Porter. Interactive elements were created by AKQA, San Francisco.

However, Sprite hasn't completely abandoned its hip-hop roots. On the day the new spots break, the marketer will hold a fashion event -- the inaugural Sprite Street Couture Showcase -- at Guastavino's in New York. The event will feature collections from streetware designers, including Etnies, LRG, Rocawear, Triple Five Soul and WESC.

'Lost' connection
Leading up to the launch, the soft drink has been part of a viral product-placement campaign with the ABC drama "Lost," with appearances in "The Lost Experience," an online game based on the show. Featuring embedded content in show scenes and TV ads during show breaks for the fictitious Hanso Foundation, each online, print, mobile and TV element provides clues to the mysterious island on which the show's castaways crashed. One such clue: a clock on the Hanso Foundation's Web site that flashes "OB:EY" instead of the time. Viewers can click the message, which links to the sublymonal.com Web site, where more clues are located.
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