Sprite leverages Twitter for brand messaging

Sprite and Sapient Nitro have launched a Twitter campaign around cricket to engage with fans. Sapient Nitro Country Manager Ramswaroop Gopalan talks to exchange4media about the genesis and early reaction to the campaign.

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Updated: May 4, 2011 12:19 PM
Sprite leverages Twitter for brand messaging

Sprite has recently launched a new campaign on Twitter to promote the brand using cricket. Having created a tag, Crickwit, the brand encourages users to leave witty tweets about the ongoing IPL matches, which also ties in with the larger brand messaging of Sprite, the University of Freshology concept.

The campaign, which is being executed for Sprite by SapientNitro, launched a few days ago, and already has significant traction on the social network. Ramswaroop Gopalan, Country Manager SapientNitro, said, “On the day we launched this campaign, it became a trending topic on Twitter. If you check the hashtag, you’ll see someone or the other is adding something new every minute.”

Coca Cola has a reputation of being very digital friendly, and has in the past launched their shadows commercial online before it was aired on television. They have also carried out innovative ideas, such as interactive vending machines which enable consumers to engage online, buy ringtones and view ads through a touch screen interface. This latest move on Twitter aims to similarly innovate, without having to cut into the pocket of the advertiser.

Wasim Basir, Director - Integrated Marketing Communications at Coca-Cola India said, “Don’t discriminate mediums. Shadows saw 500,000 interactions before the launch of the TVC, with people downloading the song as a ringtone, downloading the video, everything with no freebies and no incentives beyond being the first to see.”

He added, “We ran another viral campaign for Coca Cola in colleges in Punjab, where we filmed a dispenser which would ‘magically’ give pizzas, dozens of bottles of coke, when you bought a soft drink. It worked very well, went viral, and people were calling us asking for us to come to their colleges. If we were to try and be just digital or just offline, this wouldn’t work so well.”

Gopalan said, “Coca Cola has always been voracious about digital, and they have been willing to put money behind it. In this case though, we thought about how to best translate the University of Freshology idea for digital. We ran a few banners of course, but if we just take the offline message online, it loses a lot of impact. So then we came up with the idea of a Twitter hashtag, which people can use to make smart remarks about Cricket, and we further incentivized that by offering Rs 10,000 every week for the best tweets.”

The campaign quickly went viral for Sprite, and Gopalan points out that unlike a television or a print commercial, which is run once and then forgotten, here Sprite has now reached out to a growing community which will not go away once the IPL ends. He said, “There are cricket tournaments around the year, so at very little cost, the advertiser can now extend the campaign into a year long promotion, which reinforces the brand message instead of repeating it. We’ve not promoted it, this has been organic growth, because we’re involving the users, letting them tweet whatever they want, it makes them feel more involved. You’re not just watching a match, you’re giving commentary, and then we have set up a backend which counts the retweets, which are like ‘runs’, to give prizes to the top scorer.”

Explaining that technology can disrupt a market but that digital is not trying to replace offline media, Gopalan said that campaigns need to identify the best medium to deliver a message, rather than finding the best message to deliver for a medium. “We’re still thinking in silos, which is a behavior which needs to change. Today you still have a separate person for digital, while the head of the agency is not involved, which has to change, and this is also happening on the client side, because technology can amplify a problem and then its not a sales or marketing problem but a brand problem, so people like us have to help clients bring it all together.”

On this, he also felt that the fragmented agency space that we are seeing is a result of the relative youth of the industry, and that in four to five years this will all be pushed into a more consolidated space, driven by improved data and analytics, and hugely pushed along by the growing importance of the mobile phone in India.

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