Coca-Cola takes Sprite campaign global

Swimming is metaphor for liquid refreshment

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Marketer: Coca-Cola Co.
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Hong Kong

HONG KONG--Coca-Cola Co. is taking global a Sprite “Freedom from Thirst” campaign created for Asia by Ogilvy & Mather, Hong Kong. It will air in 50 markets around the world, covering 75% of the total global volume of the Sprite brand, marking the first time a Sprite campaign developed in Asia has aired in the U.S.

“We didn't set out to make a global campaign,” said David Elsworth, Coke’s director of advertising, Asia in Hong Kong, "[but] great advertising takes a product truth and brings it to life in an unexpected and compelling way. It takes what you know about a brand and makes you look at it in a whole new way. It makes you see what you already think you know and shows it to you in a way you never thought about before. A simple idea, expressed with great flare has the ability to captivate consumers from Indonesia all the way to Indianapolis."

In China, the “Freedom” campaign helped grow Sprite sales by 11% ahead of a “very aggressive target,” according to Coke execs there. Pre-campaign spontaneous brand awareness stood at 88.5% in January 2005, peaking at 93.4% by the end of the campaign last October. The number of Chinese consumers agreeing that Sprite “is very refreshing” increased from 24% to 41.9% - a gain of 17.9 points. The campaign, shot in Thailand, didn't just score well among Chinese and other Asian consumers; it was a finalist last year in the film category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

The strategy behind the creative, which suggests both physical and emotional release through swimming, equates Sprite with “liquid freedom.” The ads are a metaphor for the sensation of what it’s like to drink a Sprite. Bearing in mind that the brand is relatively expensive compared to local drinks and that Asian consumers were raised on juice and tea, not fizzy beverages, the campaign positions Sprite as a clear, cold assault on thirst. TV, outdoor and online ads and point-of-sale materials are supported by events and other non-traditional media.

“As a brand, [the creative communicates that Sprite is] a blast of fresh air, unpretentious, contemporary and fun to be around,” said Mr. Elsworth. The campaign was modified for the U.S. market by changing the tagline to “Obey your thirst,” but otherwise  the Asian creative “offered a compelling way to draw attention to the Sprite brand," he said.

When consumers know a brand well, “much of the role of advertising is to drive reconsideration and jerk them out of those locked-in preconceptions.”
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