Coca-Cola’s Nestea is the latest brand to tap online-only programming. CTRL, which launches on sites like NBC.com, USANetwork.com and Hulu.com this month, stars Tony Hale of Arrested Development as an office worker with the ability to change everyday reality by drinking Nestea. The effort is an attempt to reach what Annis Lyles, vp of media and interactive for Coca-Cola, North America, calls the sweet spot for the brand—millennials—and augments Nestea’s “Liquid Awesomeness” campaign from Venables, Bell & Partners, which features a spokesperson, Steve, running Nestea experiments via a live Webcam in his home. The push comes as retail sales for Nestea fell 4.8 percent versus a year ago, per Beverage Digest. Lyles discussed how Nestea is reaching its new consumer target with Brandweek. Here are some excerpts:
Brandweek: Tell us about these new Webisodes Nestea is launching and the approach you’re taking with it.
Annis Lyles: It’s all about empowerment. For us, you want to [be able to] provide the consumer with ways they can engage [with the brand] on their own terms. What we’ve been doing is creating content and having them share and engage with it. It’s been very empowering. There’s also the opportunity to differentiate ourselves from other brands through [character] assets like Steve [on the Liquid Awesomeness site]. And we’ll be launching in mid-July, through NBC’s Universal Digital Studio, a huge and original Webisode series [CTRL]…There will be fun, humor and entertainment, all of the attributes that millennials look for and that are relevant to them, and they will have fun with it.
BW: Why Webisodes?
AL: We saw a huge opportunity to reach out and connect with younger consumers, [specifically] millennials ages 18 to 34. Our goal was to re-establish the brand. The tea category hasn’t had a lot of new news. We felt millennials would be the perfect sweet spot for us to target, especially with the launch of our Red Tea Pomegranate Passion Fruit [earlier this year].
BW: Webisodes aside, how else have you taken it online?
AL: We’ve been able to take a lot of this content and embed it onto relevant sites like CollegeHumor.com, places where millennials are. It’s not about putting the content out there, but embedding the content in areas and on sites where millennials are…We’re feeding it virally onto YouTube as well.
BW: What characteristics/attributes do these consumers share? How do they typically approach the ready-to-drink tea category?
AL: The thing about millennials is they don’t like the norm. They are all about expressing the need to be unique. It’s that “been there, done that” attitude. They want to stand out from the crowd. When we started to think about how to connect with millennials, we stepped back and talked about what they do, what a day in the life is like. One of the things we discovered was millennials spend an average of 12.5 hours a week on the Internet. And 76 percent of millennials are active Internet users. We knew our core opportunity to connect [with them] would be online.
BW: Has Nestea tried marketing to millennials before?
AL: We’ve had multiple consumer targets for Nestea. At the end of the day, we have stepped back and said, “Who is the consumer? What are they doing? Why would they want to drink this product? How can we make it relevant and connect to them?” I feel we have finally pegged a sweet spot for the beverage.
BW: Why is now the right time, especially as the category has slowed because of the recession?
AL: This is the opportunity…[We felt] this would be a category that would be relevant over time in which we could be a first mover and differentiate ourselves from other teas. And also reach very important consumers who can drink our beverage for many years to come.
BW: How else are you extending this campaign? What will future Nestea millennial marketing initiatives look like?
AL: The core of the campaign has been online. We also have outdoor and print ads, as well as out-of-home, including [ads] on taxi tops. We made them blink and light up, and it’s very eye catching. We tried to find unique ways of connecting with consumers in their space. We also looked at some out-of-home, retail experiences where we felt we can connect with them in a relevant way. It’s about linking our message with where the millennials are—how they can consume our media throughout the course of the day. [Our approach] ensures [Nestea’s] awesomeness radiates beyond the border of cyberspace into brick and mortar as well.
BW: You’re really focusing on the “entertainment” aspect with this campaign. Why?
AL: The three focus areas have been gaming, as well as social networking and comedy. Millennials want to be entertained. They are about the here and now, generally focusing on getting the most and demanding immediate benefits from their favorite brands. And we believe that by bringing Nestea and Liquid Awesomeness together, we can accomplish this.
BW: How will Nestea’s new positioning likely affect/change the category? Do you expect rivals to follow?
AL: We are very confident in our marketing strategy. We believe it will have a truly positive impact. We perceive the opportunity for growth especially with our new Nestea Red Tea Pomegranate Passion Fruit launch…The innovation we’re bringing to the tea category will only grow the brand for us.