I was moderating a panel discussion at a marketing conference yesterday (evolve08 run by Networx Brisbane) and one of the panellists was from Coca-Cola, the global drinks giant. You may or may not know they have a host of brands in their stable, including things like Mount Franklin water and Mother energy drink.
Now Coke is a big believer in advertising, as anyone who's over the age of five can probably attest. A couple of years back they spent a reputed $18 million in Oz alone to launch the Coke Zero brand.
Now I've been saying for a long time that good marketing does not equal spending big bucks on advertising. Sometimes it equals spending no dollars on advertising. And who would have thought the people at Coke would agree.
But they do. When they launched Vitamin water in, they decided against spending marketing budget on advertising. In fact, their major marketing tactic was getting this product into the hands of influential people. And it's apparently working for them, as they've sold four times what they expected to sell in their last year, according to a rep.
Now I'm sure they spent a tonne of cash in other ways - they've got a spiffy website (which seems to have some flash bugs alas), probably the largest distribution penetration in the world and probably many a smart agency that advised them. But still, I'm sure this launch cost nowhere near the 18 million they spent on launching a mere brand extension, let alone a whole new product.
So really this is a bit of a "take heart" message. When one of the world's biggest consumer product companies decides there might be another way to go, it's a reminder that launching a brand doesn't require the world's deepest pockets.
As another one of the speakers (Jack Perlinski, Brand Strategist, DAIS) said yesterday "some of the best creative campaigns are born from having no budget".
Ah, couldn't have said it better myself!