Snapple’s Diet Half & Half Criticized, Message Lost In Stereotypes

Snapple’s recent marketing efforts for their half tea, half lemonade diet beverage is criticized for being racist, rather than lauded for its comedic relief.  The commercial’s aim was to stir up interest on which half of the beverage is the better: tea or lemonade.  Instead, its portayal of the office workers supporting tea (East Indian) or lemonade (Asian) has stirred up controversy for being stereotypical.  The lemonade supporter wears a yellow outfit and plays ping pong to support lemonade, while the tea supporter wears a jockey outfit and also plays ping pong to debate his point.  The two sides end up wearing sumo outfits and battle on a wrestling mat to see who wins.  See the commercial below.

This makes the overall commercial very confusing as it spends too much time debating which half is better, and only uses the remaining 5-10 seconds to tell the audience that neither half matters.  At the same time, hashtags for #tea and #lemonade are shown to extend the debate through Twitter at hashout.snapple.com.

All this initial attention on tea or lemonade has muted the commercial’s overarching message.  Neither half is more important than the other; it is the half lemonade PLUS half tea that gives the beverage the great taste consumers want.   Extending the conversation to Twitter also appears to be a bad idea as users are encouraged to vote on which half is better.  The debate may generate more buzz for the product, but it does not translate to sales.  It also reinforces the message that one half is better than the other.  In the end, this may lead users to believe that the Diet Half ‘n’ Half is really a Diet Two-Third ‘n’ One-Third, or a product that is not evenly mixed to provide a refreshing taste.

Based on the commercial alone, would you go on-line to join in on debate?  Do you even care which half is better?  Or do you ultimately prefer AriZona’s Arnold Palmer and would not bother trying this product?

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Red Bull Total Zero: Sticking With What Works

TotalZero

Red Bull is anticipated to launch Red Bull Total Zero this April in the U.S. – an energy drink formulated with no calories, carbohydrates, and sugar.  U.S. trademark and patent files indicate that the colors are silver and grey, with a yellow band across the top.  A pretty sleek looking can from my perspective.

The launch will come in the can size that Red Bull made popular (250ml) and likely retail for the same price as existing Red Bull products (Original and Sugar Free).  With only two products variations available and selling, Red Bull undoubtedly needed to innovate and come out with new products and re-gain their lost leadership position from Monster Energy.  Is Total Zero going to help them with that?  The latest innovation is a very safe line extension, capitalizing on existing energy drinkers that are concerned about calories and carbohydrates.  Red Bull is sticking to what they know best and using this to build upon their success.

Total Zero is a product that is very similar to what everyone has come to know and expect from Red Bull.  It is a product that many expect it to perform the same way as its other two beverages, but calorie-free and carbohydrate-free.  It will likely be shelved in the same cooler space as the 250ml Original and Sugar Free variety, making it less of a delineated extension (ie Red Bull Cola in the cola section, Red Bull Energy Shots at the cash register).  These factors give it a higher chance of success than their previous innovations.  However, the launch of Total Zero isn’t likely to gain a lot of additional shelf space in the cooler door, so the facings for Red Bull Original and Red Bull Sugar Free will have to be reduced.

While there may be some cannibalization with their existing products (expected), Red Bull is hoping to attract those drinkers that may have left for Monster, Rockstar, and Xyience because of the calorie-free option.  Since the growth of energy is slowly tapering off, the importance of converting a category shopper to a Red Bull shopper is even more important.  As long as they are buying your company’s products and not the competition’s, you at least keep their dollars within your organization.

Are there other product extensions or adjacencies that Red Bull can leverage?  Cola didn’t work and neither did energy shots.  There’s only so much space in the cooler’s energy door for Red Bull, so they will really need to look beyond that one section to drive growth.  Are there growth opportunities in the juice door, or the water area?  Or expand into confectionary offerings like Jolly Rancher and Jones Soda Co?

Total Zero’s launch makes the most sense for Red Bull because it’s a safe bet and should work very well with energy drinks, but Red Bull should also be thinking about where to go next beyond Total Zero.

How Big Can Recovery Beverages Grow?

Monster Rehab - courtesy of billdist.com

Initially piggybacking off of energy drinks, beverage experts are now defining recovery drinks to merit their own category (BevNet article here).  BevWire also previously reported on Lush Recovery Drink (recently rebranded to Amara Recovery Beverage).  As recovery drinks are still in its infancy along the beverage product life cycle, how can this category grow?  Who are the major players and what is being done to bring news/attention to the category?

The more well-known major players are energy drink manufacturers that each have their own line of recovery beverages such as Monster Rehab and Rockstar Recovery.  However, as Monster and Rockstar are companies that have built their name associated with “energy”, Rehab and Recovery may find it hard to grow within the companie’s beverage portfolios.  Despite their organization’s international distribution network, marketing budgets are devoted to the energy drinks since there’s more competition and the larger energy drink brand’s awareness needs to be maintained.

Amara Can - courtesy of drinkamara.com

Given these circumstances, there are high reward opportunities for lesser known manufacturers to drive awareness to their recovery drinks.  Amara builds awareness through event sampling where the consumer can firsthand understand and experience the functions of the recovery beverage.  Also interesting about Amara is that their rebranding effort also included coating their aluminum cans with flourescent material so the packaging will glow when it’s on the shelf and in coolers.  BevNet’s article describes GTOX as another recovery drink manufacturer that is driving awareness for their product with Dennis Rodman as a spokesperson.  Code Blue is another manufacturer that is trying to re-position itself as more than just a hangover recovery beverage by targetting exercise recovery and hydration.  Although not all these beverages have national distribution, each of them are driving news and awareness to this category.

The theory is that companies that bring awareness to the category bring awareness to the product, and consumers are likely to reward these companies with their business.  It happened with Coca-Cola and Pepsi with carbonated soft drinks, it also happened with Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar with energy drinks.  Consumers also rewarded vitaminwater with their business for growing the enhanced water category.  The market leader for each of these respective beverage categories are typically those that started off bringing attention to the category.

On the original question on how big can this emerging category get, one needs to look at the path of the coconut water category.  The major players that drove category awareness – O.N.E. Zico, and Vita Coco – either purchased or signed partnership agreements with PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Refreshments and Dr Pepper Snapple Group in the past two years.  The beverage conglomerates recognized the potential of coconut water and quickly brought on experts in the business.  Even AriZona has gotten into the game (link here).  That said, it is still not time to put a dollar figure on the category worth of recovery drinks, but it certainly draws parallelisms to coconut water. There are only a few main players for now, but all the potential lies with names that are not nationally known.

The next time you go into your grocery store or convenience store, look for where they stock the Monster Rehab and Rockstar Recovery, and keep an eye out for other recovery drinks.