Monday, November 12th, 2007...12:49 am

Vitaminwater’s Magic Formula

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I recently attended two separate yet similar presentations about Glaceau Vitamin Water given by their SVP of Marketing, Rohan Oza. The presentation was super impressive in both delivery and content. I was especially intrigued, as both a marketer and a sport fan, by how Vitaminwater has been able to build authentic relationships with its athlete partners.

Before the presentation I didn’t drink Vitaminwater. I didn’t love the taste. I’m too cynical to believe the health benefits and I’m a loyal Gatorade drinker (for everything from a hangover to a workout). It didn’t make sense to spend a few bucks on yet another hydration drink. I didn’t exactly connect with the idea of flavored water. But there did seem to be a ton of buzz about the drink and my friends would often be drinking it or mentioning 50 cent.

After hearing amazing stories on how the brand built relationships with celebrities such as 50 Cent, Shaq and Brian Urlacher I wanted to learn more. So I went online and did a few searches. The first page of Google search results for “Vitaminwater” turned up

  • 50 Cent Commercial (You Tube)
  • Badminiton commercial
  • 50 Cent makes $400 million on Vitaminwater acquisition
  • Debating health benefits and ingrediants

    I then went to the Vitaminwater website and to my surprise got the standard clunky brand website that prioritizes flash and slick graphics over interesting content and engaging information. The Vitaminwater experience that has been so masterfully executed in all of their other messaging and promotion apparently doesn’t translate in the digital world.

    I’ve been thinking about how Vitaminwater could recreate the powerful and direct yet irreverent message that came across in the presentation through the good old web. The key points that sold me were

    1) Athlete endorses are more than just that — they really do use the product
    2) Corporate stories were entertaining and I want to learn more about the Vitaminwater story
    3) These drinks really do have vitamins that work – need to try this out for myself!
    4) Messaging seems focused and talks directly to the consumer
    5) Brand doesn’t take itself too seriously (I love that)

    Digitizing these concepts, it would make sense for Vitaminwater to spread their brand and messaging by creating their own robust blog. In fact, I think a blog should replace their standard website and represent Glaceau’s corporate identity. Athletes could contribute more often through email and natural contact with Vitaminwater employee/bloggers. These natural brand spokespeople could share inside stories allowing customers to feel connected to the brand and even allow them to participate in the conversation. Furthermore, those who do go online looking for the truly interesting news and stories about the brand can consume that information directly from the source. Glaceau might not have 100% control the message like they do on their own website but they will certainly be part of the conversation that is already taking place on the web without them! The stories about Urlacher and Fifty, the presentation I witnessed and the outtakes from those two well-produced ads would all be great content that would be well-suited for the Vitaminwater blog. I tried to dig up some other corporate examples but couldn’t find any that effectively allows their blog to naturally tell their story. Smells like an opportunity

    Now the question that you may be asking, and the one that I am asking myself, is how can Sportsvite help Vitaminwater execute on a digital strategy. The candid answer is that I’m not exactly sure. We get the digital space and are learning more about how to communicate with people every day. We’re about to launch our new blog which will be a lot more interesting than the normal dull company updates that most blogs feature.

    One of Sportsvite main themes is that recreational athletes and professional athletes aren’t all that different. A clutch play is a clutch play. Being a good teammate can happen on any team. The satisfaction of success and the adrenaline to be challenged can happen at any level. That’s why we have created the Baseball Card widget and organized the “Play With The Pros” contest. I also think that is why Vitaminwater has a commercial with Ortiz and Urlacher playing badminton, a promotional contest in Chicago where the winners went fishing with the Bear’s middle linebacker and a Formula 50 flavor.

    If Vitaminwater still isn’t sold on a blog format – they should just ask their partner Gilbert Arenas how effective of a tool blogging can be.

    Regardless, I now find myself regularly drinking both VitaminWater and Smart Water. It keeps me hydrated and I feel good when I drink it. For a cynic who usually tunes out corporate messages I’m pretty impressed that Vitaminwater was able to win me over. Hopefully Sportsvite can find a way to help them win other people over.

    Check out this viral video of 50 having beef with the Trombonist. This is an outtake from his hillarious orchestra commercial. The best line is when 50 says “If I can ruin JAH’s career the trombonist player doesn’t symbolize much of a problem for me.”