While Coca-Cola “temporarily paused marketing efforts” in 2020 across its entire portfolio to “ensure the financial stability of our business,” Ramirez says, it’s unclear why Aha is nearly 18 months late to the advertising party—especially as the colorful competitor it’s wrestling for market share, PepsiCo-owned Bubly, has spent years throwing media dollars at Super Bowl ads and Michael Bublé cameos.
(A few months after its initial launch, a Washington Post perspective story on Aha mused that the brand was “likely to get a big marketing push” imminently, perhaps with a celebrity endorser—though such a campaign had not come to fruition until now.)
Timeliness has been a part of Aha’s brand story since its debut, when it caught flack from some observers who questioned Coca-Cola’s late entry into the booming flavored seltzer market. Bubly was introduced in early 2018 and La Croix in the 1980s, although the latter’s popularity did not explode until recently.
On the upswing
But despite being faced with an increasingly crowded seltzer category, coupled with a wide roll-out just months before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Aha has posted healthy early performances and closed out its first full year on shelves with an 8.3% share of the unsweetened flavored sparkling water market, according to Nielsen data.
The brand’s sales have been on the upswing in recent months, too, with Aha achieving a 57% boost in sales in March 2021 compared to the year-ago period.
Ahead of its campaign launch today, the sparkling water brand also debuted two new flavors, raspberry + acai and mango + black tea, in March to enlarge its repertoire of mashup products that already included blueberry + pomegranate, lime + watermelon, and more. However, Ramirez confirms that only the latter flavor, which is caffeinated, will be featured in the “Can I Get an Aha” push.
“We absolutely see caffeine as a rising trend in the category, as well as functionality in sparkling water in general,” says Ramirez, noting that Coca-Cola undertook “extensive” market research before the news flavors’ debut to learn what consumers wanted to see in the flavored seltzer category.
The primary campaign assets featuring Lapkus and Dunn are slated to run through the summer, with additional creative on audio and out-of-home platforms remaining in rotation until October.