Spikes Asia

The Coolest Music to Combat China’s Hottest Summer

ESSENCEMEDIACOM, Shanghai / SPRITE / 2023

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Sprite is a top-three carbonated beverage in Mainland China, but the brand had been losing share to an aggressive, venture-backed newcomer who significantly outspends Sprite and invests heavily in Gen Z passion points.

Sprite had to deepen its cultural relevance to win back the young generation’s hearts. Its summer campaign needed to increase brand engagement and affinity and cement Sprite’s image as a trend-setting brand. Translating brand strength to sales performance was crucial, too, as summer is the carbonated beverage category’s key battleground.

Sprite had identified music – Gen Z’s top passion point globally – as the way to connect with young consumers. However, many brands in China used music to build youth appeal (albeit via similar, commercial executions). Hence, Sprite’s challenge was how to activate music in a way that was distinctive to the brand’s “Heat Happens, Stay Cool” proposition and truly relevant to Chinese Gen Z consumers’ lives.

Idea

Digging into music listening behaviors led us to the breakthrough insight that Gen Z use music as an outlet for self-expression to clear their minds and refresh their mood as they navigate the heated world around them. Hence, music was the perfect cultural enabler and amplifier of Sprite’s benefits of cut-through refreshment and mental clarity in the face of heat. But not just any music – music from fearless artists who take on heat through their creativity and inspire Gen Z to stay cool through their fresh perspectives.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Sprite invited Grammy Award-winning producer James Blake to craft a musical hook and work with popular musicians from four world regions who uniquely interpreted the hook into full-length songs. Our program shone a light on their personal stories, creative processes, and ways to tackle the heat of the modern world expressed through songs, music videos and behind-the-scenes content.

Strategy

We crafted a distribution strategy around the Sprite China brand anthem – “No Fear of Heat” by Hua Chenyu x James Blake – that ensured reach at scale and deepened cultural relevance and boosted audience engagement. Five principles of success:

• Tell the “No Fear of Heat” story in diverse ways by co-creating innovative content and experiences with musicians, media platforms, consumers alike.

• Leverage real listening behavior to be inspiring and unmissable wherever Gen Z seeks out new music: streaming platforms, Douyin and Weibo.

• Level-up music experience for more excitement and interaction – offline at music festivals, online in the metaverse, in consumers’ hands with an AI-enabled digital engagement.

• Keep the beat going with fresh Sprite music experiences to engage consumers all summer long

• Integrate product to seamlessly drive sales – scan the bottle to unlock rewards including exclusive music content and Sprite music festival tickets!

Execution

We brought the Sprite music platform to life inspired by how musicians structure a hit song:

• Intro: We dropped “No Fear of Heat” by taking over the biggest music streaming platforms with impactful and interactive ad formats. We extended the content to social platforms to maximize discovery and engagement.

• Verse: we teamed up with well-known musicians to co-create 33 remixes expressing regional heat nuances. We released their songs in four batches, selecting high-exposure media placements that drove to custom playlists on streaming platforms.

• Chorus: Sprite and Tencent Music Entertainment hosted three massive music festivals at water parks and brought cool experience to millions more via livestreaming including in the TMELAND metaverse.

• Crescendo: We put listeners in the producer’s seat by adopting Netease Music’s advanced AI audio synthesis technology. Hua sang “No Fear of Heat" customized to music fans' chosen genre, instruments, lyrics – an industry first!

Outcome

By co-creating the coolest music to combat China’s hottest summer we increased top-of-mind awareness and affinity for Sprite, built its image among consumers as a trendy, youth-relevant brand. We drove a turnaround in sales as demand for Sprite boomed. Sprite’s year-on-year sales grew three times faster than they had over the past three years on average.

As our music campaign struck a chord with Gen Z, we smashed our engagement targets and industry benchmarks:

• ‘No Fear of Heat’ became a top-ranked song on both major music platforms

• 589 million song listens and music video views (115% vs. target)

• 120 million total engagements (121% vs. target)

• 300 million views of our livestreamed music festivals (3X vs. benchmark)

• 21 million people tried our DIY activation (6.8X vs. benchmark; one of Netease Music’s top 3 most successful brand activations ever)

• Social buzz increased +146% vs. last summer

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