How V Energy Drink cracked millennials with a crazy content series

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 17 November 2016

The millennials have long been hailed the holy grail for marketers, but capturing the attention of the elusive demographic has been a difficult feat for many brands – including V Energy Drink.

V Energy Drink is best known for the tagline “The massive hit that improves you a bit”. The brand has previously invested heavily in TV, with several big budget commercials rolling out.

But in its latest marketing push, the brand went big with branded content, using Snapchat videos, street murals, GIFs, outdoor billboards and YouTube videos to reach its 18-24 target demographic.

Andrew Fenwick, marketing manager at Frucor, the parent company of V Energy Drink, tells AdNews the decision to experiment with more native content was led by the changing habits of millennials.

“Reaching the 18-24 key target is the trickiest thing for V. They are becoming harder to reach with traditional mediums,” he says.

“That’s not to say they aren’t consuming TV and outdoor but it’s very different interactions with these mediums, such as dual screening.

“The key thing is that we’ve jumped into content now. There is definitely still a role for traditional media channels to drive brand salience, but we are trying to shift our brand metrics to talk to customers in an entertaining way.”

The new content series features 24 pieces of content, from TKT Sydney - part of Clemenger BBDO Sydney, was designed to teach millennials vital life skills overlooked by schools – from folding a fitted sheet to faking a sickie.

To get its message across, V recruited YouTube sensations RackaRacka, Aunty Donna and notorious Super Bowl crasher Dion Rich.

One of the clips duped more than 14 million people worldwide, including rapper 50 Cent, who shared a video of someone taking a selfie with an exploding volcano with his 37 million Facebook followers dubbing it “maf*cking crazy”.

“Where people are consuming media and likely to interact with our brand is quite a different route to what we’ve bought previously,” Fenwick says.

“People only want to be interacting with brands when they want. So we decided to provide “non-advertising” in a sense.

“When OMD presented the media plans for the campaign, I questioned if it was even an ad. But when I put myself in the shoes of a younger audience, it has subtle branding. There’s no logo slapping but it still relates to the “improve you a bit tagline.”

What the agency said

Working with the YouTube influencers was a new experience for TKT Sydney. The agency has been working with V Energy Drink for four years on TV commercials, but wanted to connect with “light or lapsed” younger energy drink consumers.

“Our main job as an agency was to get out of the way of the content producers. A lot of the clips were done with YouTube stars who have their own style, so as a creative director I had to relinquish control,” TKT creative director Brendan Willenberg tells AdNews.

“The output has validated our hands off approach, but it took a brave client and a trusting agency.”

Willenberg says there is a definite shift within the creative industry towards content over commercials.

“Big, sexy TV commercials have a time and place but there is a whole other group of people who are harder to reach now. This content is the top of the iceberg at reaching people with entertainment, through Snapchat lenses and more,” he says.

“We currently peg ourselves against Red Bull, which is about extreme sports. Our idea is we make you a bit better at smaller, sillier things.”

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