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We Are Committed To Helping Create A Greener Future For Nigeria- Norden Thurston


Brand Communicator Team recently caught up with Norden Thurston, Head of Marketing, 7up Bottling Company in his office. In this exclusive interview, he bares his mind on the “Long throat” campaign, the carbonated soft drink market in Nigeria amongst others. Excerpts….


Carbonated soft drink market in Nigeria


small: we’re social

The CSD category has seen a number of changes in the last few years. There have been new players entering the market which has created a much more competitive environment. However, I think competition is good as it drives all brands to ensure that they offering the best value to consumers.


Innovative initiatives in 2015


The past 2 years have been challenging economically in Nigeria and consumers have been the hardest hit.

As a consumer-centric company we are even more focused on providing value to our consumers during this period.

This informed the launch of the Long Throat 60cl bottle which provided consumers with 20% extra volume at the same price. This gave them longer refreshment, longer satisfaction & longer enjoyment.

We also had a number of initiatives across our Music and Football platforms that continued to connect our brands with our loyal consumers.


The launch strategy for Pepsi Campaign


Our growing social media scene was the perfect channel to start the conversation. Long Throat’s meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used.

It was critical that there was a pre-launch (tease) campaign that set Long Throat in the correct context in which we needed it to be understood.

This was done using our Music Ambassadors and other key influencers and exploiting the growing Digital landscape that exists in Nigeria with the #thingsilongthroatfor. However we also took the conversation offline to radio to include those consumers not online and to ensure they were also part of the tease phase.

During the tease phase, the brand was not mentioned and #thingsilongthroatfor which started with positive Long Throat wishes from our Music Ambassadors blew up and set new standards for digital engagement in Nigeria.

Once we were satisfied that Long Throat was set in a positive context we unveiled the Pepsi Long Throat campaign that targeted all consumer touch points with disruptive innovative communication.

The true success of Long Throat was in the planning process with our agency Insight.

We obsessed over every detail of the campaign and were not satisfied until we believed every consumer touch point was reached in a disruptive way while ensuring the communication was integrated across all these touch points to the central campaign concept.

In summary, if a marketing idea/concept does not make you nervous, it does not have the potential to be truly great as it means you are not pushing boundaries.

In this information age it is getting even more challenging to surprise and disrupt consumers however the Long Throat campaign was able to break through the clutter and disrupt as it was a concept that pushed us out of our comfort zone.

Reaction of consumers on “long throat”

The reaction has been phenomenal!

It has surpassed all our objectives and most importantly our consumers have embraced the campaign by going out there and buying the bottle.

Not only have we won a number of marketing awards in Nigeria and been nominated for global awards, the feedback from Pepsi consumers on the campaign has been the most rewarding. There have been hundreds of messages from consumers congratulating us on the campaign and professing their love for the brand.


Edge in the Nigerian market


Pepsi is bottled by Seven-Up Bottling Company in Nigeria. Seven-Up Bottling Company PLC (SBC) produced its first bottle of 7UP on the 1st October 1960, the same day Nigeria received its Independence. Hence we always say that SBC and Nigeria are two destinies intertwined.

People are central to everything we do….from our loyal consumers who have supported our brands for the past 55 years, to our traders who have partnered with SBC over all these years to ensure our products can be found throughout Nigeria and most importantly the SBC employees whose passion and love for the brands creates the spirit in the business to always exceed consumer and customer expectations.

We are also obsessed with quality and follow PepsiCo global standards to ensure we produce the best quality products across all our brands such as Pepsi, Mirinda, Teem, 7up, Mountain Dew and Aquafina.

We really think Global and act local to build lasting valuable relationships across all stakeholders that interact with our brands.



Brand manager for Pepsi, Segun Ogunleye and Marketing Manager, 7Up Bottling Company, Norden Thurston


Although Pepsi is an international brand we ensure that everything we do is localized to connect and create value for our consumers….without whom we would not be in business.

I have heard the saying before that Football is the heartbeat of Africa and Music is its pulse and this very true for Nigeria.

Pepsi has built its success globally on music and football and we have done the same in Nigeria.

Pepsi has always been at the forefront of football and music in Nigeria…..from grassroot development for the past 25 years with the Pepsi Football Academy which has Mikel Obi and Osaze as some of it alumni to groundbreaking football campaigns such as “Our moment Our Time” to building music equity in the 1980s with mega concerts such as the Lekki Summer Splash with the Legend Fela Kuti to currently having some of the biggest music stars not only in Nigeria but Africa as our Music Ambassadors such as Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay.

We also have a longstanding relationship with one of the best if not the best agency in West Africa – Insight Communications (part of the Publicis group) which has helped build our brands to be some of the most loved in the country.

We do not have the normal client/agency relationship but operate as true partners who always inspire each other to ensure we are always exceeding our consumer expectations and setting world class standards in everything that is delivered. This has been one of the key factors in Pepsi’s success.


Operations in other markets versus Nigeria


PepsiCo has very stringent standards and all operations meet these high global standards.

However, Seven-Up Bottling Company has been recognized a number of times over the years as being the Global Bottler of the Year or in the Top 3 of Global bottlers in the world……which serves as further proof of the high quality of our operations in Nigeria.


Corporate Social Responsibility projects


Seven Up Bottling Company’s CSR initiatives are aimed at empowering people to help to create a better society.

Our CSR initiatives are diversified, touching areas such as community development, education, health, sports, arts and entertainment.

Some of the projects include the Pepsi Football Academy, provision of social amenities such as boreholes to host communities, provision of books and laboratory equipment to secondary schools, award of scholarships to indigent students to post-primary and tertiary institutions and support for cancer and cholera awareness programmes.

Other initiatives are the 7Up Harvard Scholarship which has already sent six Nigerians to Harvard Business School, to partnerships with Pan Atlantic University on Infrastructural development, support for LEAP Africa to train young Nigerians on leadership,partnering with the Society for Performing Arts (SPAN), support for culture and tourism through sponsorship of the Calabar carnival, Copa Lagos, One Lagos Fiesta amongst many others as well as contribution to the landscaping of parks and other public places.

We are committed to helping create a greener future for Nigeria.

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