Boys: Cossette Media: Sprite

Goal

Goal

With a huge bull-shit detector to bypass, Sprite had to find a credible way to reach its young, urban, media-savvy target. Part of the strategy was to have Miles Thirst, a jive-talking animated character made popular in the current wave of TV spots in the U.S., reach the kids where they are: online, listening to music and on the courts. ‘This campaign was used to authentically integrate Miles Thirst and Sprite into our target’s lives thereby driving preference for Sprite,’ says Brooke

Patterson, media manager, Cola-Cola, at Toronto’s Cossette Media.

‘We wanted them to like Sprite, the spokesperson and the brand.’

Budget

$170,000

Target consumer

Urban youth, male 16 to 18

Consumer insight/characteristics

‘We knew they were into hip-hop, basketball and online gaming,’ says Patterson. ‘You can get them with mass, but we know they have those bull-shit detectors so we had to make sure [the execution] was pretty ingrained into their world.’

Media touch points

* Online: Habbo Hotel

* TV: Miles as a VJ on Quebec’s MusiquePlus

* OOH close to and on basketball nets/backboards sent to in-need community centres in major cities across the country (Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver,

Toronto, Calgary)

* Chalk art on b-ball courts

* TSAs

Execution

‘We didn’t want to make it seem like ‘Sprite is trying to sell us something.’ We wanted to give them some entertainment value,’ says Patterson. ‘We said…let’s try to bring this guy to life [and] we tried to put a Canadian spin [on it].’

The execution therefore focused on non-traditional media elements to reach the target from April to September of last year. One element included having Miles as the host of his own music video show on MusiquePlus. ‘He actually hosted the show. They would show frames of him to look like his arms were moving and he would do big rants about the hip-hop artists and what songs he liked.’

A second element was a hook-up with Habbo Hotel, a popular virtual community with about 300,000 12-to 24-year-old users. This became Miles’ main hangout, and his presence was integrated from the ground up via a club renamed ‘Club Thirst,’ virtual pouring rights, his own penthouse accessed via an elevator, and Sprite quests to win points.

Finally, the campaign met youth in the real world: in schools, at community centres, and on and around public transit. Basketball nets and backboards were donated to community centres across the country. Then the Cossette team went further, creating ‘chalk art’ on the courts with sayings such as ‘Up your game, grab a Sprite,’ ‘Play it right, drink Sprite’ and ‘Is that your shot?’

Results

* Miles Thirst’s show secured a top 20 position on MusiquePlus

* Sprite top-of-mind awareness increased by 35%

* Youthography research for Habbo Hotel showed a 75% increase in consumption of Sprite among users of the site

* A virtual goodbye party was held in his honour. He received 13,000 personal

e-notes on Habbo

Credits

Cossette Media

Nick Barbuto,

director interactive solutions

Niall Mulholland,

associate media director

Danick Archambault,

media supervisor

Marie-Christine Simard,

media supervisor

Marie-Claude Cere,

account executive

Brooke Patterson,

media manager

Coca-Cola

Nicole de Larzac,

brand manager, Sprite

Karen Lee, media manager

NICHE IS THE NEW MASS – Brooke Patterson, media manager, Cossette Media

Brooke Patterson, who started off in the industry selling radio space, always knew she wanted to work at an ad agency. ‘But I didn’t know anything about them, so I called Lauren Richards, who used to be the head of media [at Cossette] at the time and asked if I could talk to her. It turned into an interview and she hired me.’

Now, seven years later, Patterson oversees media for all the Coke brands, carbonated and non-carbonated alike, and says they all have unique and very refined targets, which coincides with what’s happening in the industry overall. ‘[Brands] have to get more niche,’ she says. ‘You have to find out exactly who your target is and go after them in the most unique way possible.’ Layers of mass advertising still work, she admits, but ‘you have to have a little extra.’

So for the executions with a brand like Sprite, with its very perceptive and discriminating young target, the media has to entertain and engage. ‘Teens have to interact with our advertising – you can’t just show them something or talk to them, you have to converse with them: whether it’s texting to an outdoor ad, or playing online games with Coke ads in them – anything where they feel that they’re playing with the brand, that’s what we always try to do.’

When it’s successful, it really works. Case in point, with the Sprite campaign, Habbo Hotel users organized a going-away party for Miles. ‘All these kids sent e-mails: ‘Man, we’re going to miss you.’ They knew it wasn’t a real guy, but they loved interacting with him.’

In the coming months, Patterson says she’s most excited about how technology is paving the way for new and interesting mediums to showcase creative. Using projections and holographics in the OOH sphere is one of her personal favourites. But is that where she sees the industry moving over all? ‘It might,’ she says slyly. ‘At least that’s where I’d like to see it go.’