The above image is what the viewer sees when they visit Full Throttle Energy’s website. However, the website will soon undergo changes to remove the NHRA logo and “drag racing” copy. Various news outlets reported that Coca-Cola’s Mello Yello will be replacing Full Throttle as the title sponsor of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in 2013. The Sports Business Daily article also mentions some quick insights into why Mello Yello was given title sponsorship over other Coca-Cola beverage brands (link here).
This effectively spells the end of Full Throttle as Coca-Cola continues to reduce investments in this homegrown energy drink brand. Full Throttle had four flavors existing in the Canadian marketplace as recent as just two years ago. But with the distribution switch from Rockstar Energy to Monster Energy, and the rise of Coca-Cola’s other homegrown energy drink – Nos Energy Drink – there just wasn’t any room for Full Throttle. First the underperforming flavors of Diet Full Throttle, Blue Agave, and Red Berry (Fury) were phased out leaving only the Regular Citrus as the sole Full Throttle marketing offering. Then the website’s functionality was limited to the above image – there is no click-through possible except for privacy policies, contact info, and the link to NHRA. And now the loss of the NHRA official sponsorship, which removes even more functionality from this brand. One of the key questions left to be answered is that, since Full Throttle has been given less investments in the past few years, why hasn’t there been communication to acknowledge its discontinuation?
Even though Full Throttle has been at the end of its product life cycle for more than a year, it would appear that there were multiple factors playing into why no official announcements were made. For one thing, Full Throttle was still the title sponsor of NHRA and it would be detrimental to Coca-Cola’s relationship with the NHRA if they discontinued their official energy drink while the sponsorship was still on-going. How will the racing association look if their official energy drink was not even on the market anymore? It is also during this languishing time for Full Throttle that Coca-Cola rapidly increased its sponsorships and visibility for Nos Energy Drink. Nos Energy Drink obtained sponsorship for NASCAR, Formula Drift, and Major League Baseball among other organizations. Occurring simultaneously was the portfolio expansion of Nos products. Originally available only in a 650ml bottle, Nos began extending itself to a 473ml can, then increased its offerings to include a Sugar Free and Grape variant. It recently introduced two other variants into the Canadian market: Cherry and Citrus. The product proliferation was to further entrench Nos with the consumer market and expand their visibility at the point-of-sale.
Full Throttle’s role in the energy drink portfolio shifted from growth to flanker status – it’s purpose was to hold steady until Nos Energy Drink was ready to take over as the company’s official homegrown energy drink. Now this transformation looks all but completely done. In-aisle shelf space and cooler space has been shifted from Full Throttle Energy to Nos Energy Drink. As such, consumers will likely be seeing an official Coca-Cola communication on the end of Full Throttle Energy in 2013.
Will Nos hang on to become Coca-Cola’s successful energy drink brand? Only time will tell, but given the investments that the company is putting behind this brand, it will stand a better chance of success than Full Throttle.