The Making Of Pepsi Long Throat
...How Consumers Fell In Love With The Award-winning Campaign
By Tunji Faleye
Competition in the Carbonated Soft Drink (CSD) category of the fast moving consumer goods sector in Nigeria has always been a straight battle between two major rivals namely: Coca-Cola and Pepsi. However, a major disruption which occurred in 2015 caused an upset in the balance of power and intensified competition in the cola drinks market.
An earlier shift in the packaging of both brands prepared the grounds for the disruption. Both brands had taken advantage of technology to shift from Returnable Glass Bottle (RGB) to plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle – an innovation that was rapidly embraced by consumers. Production cost for PET packaging was also significantly lower than that of Returnable Glass Bottles.
The phenomenon created a convenient environment for the entrance of new players who could more easily launch themselves into the cola category. Predictably, Big Cola, a South American brand, joined the fray in early 2015. The entry of Big Cola, produced in PET bottle, changed 50 years of rivalry between Coca Cola and Pepsi. Within a short time, the brand was able to establish itself as a formidable competitor in the industry.
Amidst tough economic realities and stagnant category growth, the entrance of Big Cola created a serious competition for Pepsi, especially when it became obvious that the brand had the potential to gain quick momentum and constitute itself as a bigger threat to survival of Pepsi and other players in the CSD market.
As part of an effort to retain its position in the CSD market, Pepsi moved swiftly by developing a marketing plan backed by a considerable war-chest. The campaign was developed to protect and grow volume share of the brand and to also dominate the market and provide consumers with 20% extra volume at the same price, giving longer refreshment, satisfaction and longer enjoyment.
The outcome was the launch of Pepsi Long Throat 60cl which became instant favourite in every home. The campaign was a huge success as it became the talking point at every forum. Pepsi Long Throat became the talk of the town and emerged as perhaps, the best campaign in the year by changing the narrative of the CSD brand in the country.
Clearly, the success story of the Pepsi Long Throat campaign will be incomplete without reference to the brilliance of 7Up Bottling marketing team and the creative ingenuity of Insight Publicis Nigeria that came up with the idea of Long Throat. Knowing-full well that to be a fringe player in the industry can be a very precarious position to occupy, the client and agency conceived an award-winning campaign and repositioned the Pepsi brand to reclaim its market share in the highly competitive CSD category.
Idea Behind Pepsi Long Throat
Though the words long throat, as widely understood in Nigeria, depict a person who is always longing for more, its usage is primarily a tongue-in-cheek take on greed; literally depicting a person who is straining to look for the extras not on his plate.
In a tropical country where cool refreshment is critical, and almost insatiable, ‘longthroat’ was the perfect description for the new Pepsi 60cl bottle, with more Pepsi refreshment, but at the price of a 50cl. The Long Throat bottle was designed to invite the always seeking, always thirsty consumers to fully satisfy their thirst on a functional level while, at the same time, connecting with them through their hearts by giving them a platform to express their ambitions, hopes and dreams.
Speaking on the making of Pepsi Long Throat campaign, NordenThurston, Head of Marketing, 7Up Bottling Company says: “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 offer the best value to consumers.”
He adds: “Apart from that, the past two 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. These informed the launch of the Long Throat 60cl bottle which provided consumers with 20 percent extra volume at the same price.”
Explaining the motivation for the campaign, Chima Okenimkpe, Executive Creative Director, Publicis West Africa says,“the launch of Pepsi Long Throat was brought about because there was a need for Pepsi to respond to the campaigns and initiatives from competition and also to strengthen its equity and offering to Nigerians.”
Leveraging on its formidable experience as the leading agency in West African integrated marketing communication industry, Insight-Publicis was able to come up with a compelling campaign strategy that propelled the image of Pepsi to the consumers.
In developing the campaign, the agency capitalised on the ambitious nature of the markets – the need to have it all – and localised it for a market that was hungry to embrace its culture once again. Thus, the Long Throat campaign was created and birthed.
Insight-Publicis came up with the idea of Long Throat as a result of having the right insight and information. He has this to say, “We are constantly in bed with the consumers and have periodic FGD’s across different geographic zones to check their pulse against our client’s brands. Also, the agency has monthly and quarterly market visits that ensure we are able to keep up to date with what is going on in the market place. On top of these are specific brand health checks that measure brand performance along several indices versus the competition. With all this data at our disposal it was rather straightforward putting in place a communication strategy built around a central compelling idea.”
Similarly, to create brand loyalty among the consumers both old and young, the agency employed a world-class 360 degree campaign from local insight for a world-class brand. Knowing-full well that the consumers may misinterpret the words ‘LongThroat,’ the agency embarked on aggressive, yet systematic top of the mind awareness campaign to capture consumer’s emotion in a much bigger and thought provoking way to drive conversation, loyalty and buzz around Pepsi brand with the intention that would eclipse competition.
Top of the strategies employed was the use of the social media scene which was regarded as the perfect channel to start the conversation and so Twitter, Facebook and Instagram became the perfect channels. Social media platforms provided Pepsi the opportunity to influence the conversations. Thus, online became the starting point for the campaign strategy as a platform that would make conversation between the brand and its consumers a two-way process.
The right context was set for Long Throat in order to guard against negative feedback and backlash getting consumers to participate by creating their own content, interacting with their idols and of course Pepsi, and leveraging on the excitement generated online and creating a new social movement to ensure longer reach, and memory retention.
Before the exposure of the campaign on the TV, the agency and Pepsi began a two-week buzz to generate teaser campaign with hashtag #THINGSILONGTHROATFOR, driven by key online influencers and Pepsi brand ambassadors Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. What informed the choice of Wizkid, and Tiwa in the Long Throat campaign despite an array of entertainers available in the country was that they were already brand ambassadors with the client.
According to Sinmisola Hughes-Obisesan, Creative Director, Insight Publicis, Nigeria,“one of the exciting moments in the campaign was the clever way we unveiled Seyi Shay as the new Pepsi brand ambassador. It appeared unexpected and further drove the positive message behind ‘Longthroating’ for something, which was to simply just keep aspiring. Seyi Shay aspired to become a Pepsi brand ambassador and her Long Throat wish came true. Davido was not part of the campaign as the brand only signed him in 2016.”
She adds: “Three significant factors also played a vital role in creating differentiation and distinction for Pepsi Long Throat. First is that it is a truly local campaign; an idea birthed by Nigerians for Nigerians. We used locally relevant insight, expressed wholly within the Nigerian context and executed using Nigerian slang. Second, was that the campaign was delivered through all consumer touch points including new media innovations such as Keke Napep branding. We even thought of creating a Long Throat app, which unfortunately didn’t end up seeing the light of day. Third was having the right media plan and investment. These days clients are looking for maximum ROI and agencies will have to make more justification as to the level of investments that would guaranty this. These are not buoyant times and the days of ‘’lavish” spending are on hold. The onus is on us as Agencies to deliver campaigns that not just showcases high-octane creativity, but also delivers for clients too.”
Apart from the social media scene, the systematic campaign also employed the use of television commercial, radio, billboard and in-store to create awareness for the brand. This became necessary as part of the effort to get the right audience, set the right meaning for Long Throat’s and in print the correct context in the mind of the consumers.
According to Norden, “During the tease phase, the brand was not mentioned but 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 and 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.”
Speaking more on the campaign strategy, Jones Bassey, Account Director, Insight Publicis, Nigeria has this to say, “A lot of time and effort was invested during the campaign development. It was a rigorous effort by the team who, on most days, had to burn some of the proverbial midnight oil. Weekends were engulfed in the process. We had to decipher and plot the expected consumer journey at every turn. It was important to determine the various reactions that could arise on exposure of the message. Once we were sure of all the possible outcomes, we designed the communication to speak to each of these reactions as they occurred. In so doing, the brand was guiding the conversation and leading the consumers all through the campaign.”
Okenimkpe says, “We always start our thinking from the viewpoint of the consumer and walk backwards. We are experts at knowing what gets consumers excited and responsive. It was clear from the outset that this was meant to be both a popular and effective campaign.” He adds that the understanding of the consumer conversational journey allowed the agency to be able to excite and engage them at every point during the campaign.
Reactions to Long Throat
The Pepsi Long Throat Campagin was a massive success in the CSD industry. According to Neilsen Retail Audit 2016, the growth rate of Pepsi jumped from 15 percent to over 60 percent because there was demand for more of the product in key cities across the country. This was necessitated by increase in consumer demand as the 60cl campaign/launch excited Pepsi’s existing consumers to consuming more frequently and at the same time boost equity around regular consumption.
Norden enthusiastically declared that the campaign was a huge success in all ramifications, adding that the campaign surpassed all the objectives resulting from consumers buying more bottle of Pepsi. He said, “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.”
Similarly, Feyi Olubodun, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Insight Publicis Nigeria says: “We got feedback from the client that they achieved beyond their sales target for the period of the campaign. It got the attention of the Pepsi Global team and now the local client wants to extend it to other parts of the country. Consumers were talking about it all over the internet, and the phrase “I Long Throat For” a lot.
According to Okenimkpe, “the campaign exceeded our expectations both from a consumer engagement perspective and also sales. It was highly successful by every set parameter.” In agreement with Okenimkpe, Bassey has this to say, “The reactions from the consumers have been unbelievable and response from the client equally amazing!”
Corroborating this view, Sinmisola adds: “The campaign was expected to do two things; increase sales and build brand love and it exceeded both expectations. I mean, if you asked for a Long Throat bottle, anywhere from Ajangbadi to Ikoyi you would be handed a refreshing Pepsi!”
The success of the Pepsi LongThroat campaign has been phenomenal as other clients began to use it as a reference point in the industry. Speaking on the benefit of Pepsi Long Throat Campaign, Olubodun reveals that the campaign has been quite impactful because it has the unique component of following the classical process for developing marketing campaigns while being a digital campaign. “This helped us to demonstrate that even though we are in a post-digital era, the fundamental principles of marketing still matter and can deliver results. The campaign has helped to position the agency on the global stage. I mean we won the Silver prize for Social Strategy from World Advertising Research Council (WARC). This was along with global agencies such as BBH, giving a globally comparable reference. We also won the Black Giraffe within the Publicis Africa Group, which basically means we produced the best work within a network of 83 agencies across 35 countries in Africa.”
According to Chima, “The success of the campaign has opened many new doors for us, especially with ambitious and discerning clients who appreciate the power of creativity to change the fortunes of their brand and business.”
Subscribing to this, Basseysays the referrals have been pouring in as the campaign has undoubtedly created a fresh standard of what advertising should deliver and how communication can impact not just the behaviour of consumers but the bottom-line of a business.
In a similar vein, Sinmisola, says,“the campaign further reinforced the idea that brands, especially global brands, need to connect by telling local stories because this is what resonates with the local audience. This campaign has shown that it simply works and our clients are now asking for more of this.” She advises that brands should endeavour to offer campaigns like these which are well planned and designed for social.
Speaking on referrals, Sinmisola also notes, “Most Clients are now requesting for a similar outcome. However at Insight Publicis, we are ever aware of the constantly changing environment. In the end, you are only as good as your next performance and not the last.”
Awards and Recognitions
One thing is certain, apart from referral the campaign has brought for the agency and the increase in the return on investment for the brands, the Pepsi LongThroat has won quite a number of awards and international recognitions. Some of the awards include: Nigeria Brand Awards 2015 – campaign of the year and iconic brand of the year, Nigeria Journalist Awards 2016 – campaign of the year, WARC- 2016 Prize for Social Media Strategy, OAAN 2016 – Grand Prix for marketing excellence, ADVAN Social Media Strategy of the year 3rd Place, Publicis African Group Gold and Black Giraffe Awards and the recent nine awards at the LAIF awards in the Non-Alcoholic & Beverages. All these awards are a direct result of hard work and tireless dedication.
For Olubodun, the Pepsi Long Throat campaign has shown that Insight Publicis is a frontline and formidable agency that has changed the business of integrated marketing communication in the country. According to him, “It was important to us because the word on the street has been that Insight is an old and traditional agency. The Pepsi Long Throat Campaign is the most impactful digital campaign in the market today, and it came from us, meaning that the perception of being old and traditional is baseless. An agency is not young and vibrant because of the incorporation age of the agency. An agency is young because of the quality of the thought processes running through the agency, and the cutting-edge work coming out of the agency. The Long Throat campaign has shown the world that Insight is a 36-year young agency.”
About Insight Publicis Nigeria
Insight Publicis, regarded as one of the leading advertising agencies in Africa, has continued to lead the industry as it keeps up with evolving market and consumer trends by investing massively in training its employees, irrespective of background, experience, status or position within the system. The agency continues to train constantly in the area of digital application, brand innovation, strategic planning, project management, information systems and communication development applicable to all staff, at designated period with the years, beyond assigned job role and responsibilities.
Insight hinges its core business model on passionately building business by immersing itself in the businesses of its clients and actively engaging in resolving their business problems. The agency has moved beyond providing conventional advertising agency services and has evolved into a partner in developing corporate strategy, spotting industry trends and providing deep analyses, as well as assisting in product development and management.
The agency is blessed with a dedicated workforce – a community of diverse talents that comes together to collaborate, co-create and stimulate the system to bring about the collision of ideas that are fully ground-breaking, innovative, inspiring and changing the game for any brand in the industry.
Insight immerses itself in the businesses of its clients by anticipating their needs to proposing vision and actively engaging in resolving business problems including developing corporate strategy, providing trends and analyses, creating the business plan, assisting in product development and management, and finally building a marketing plan rollout strategy and launch.
More than any other agency, Insight has worked on various brands in the Nigerian marketing space and still continues to append its signature on many others across diverse sectors. The agency has worked on many market leaders or strongly competing number two brands in their various categories. The list includes Bornvita, Heineken, Vitafoam, Lucozade Boost, Star Larger, Pepsi, MTN, 7-Up, Legend, Indomies, Ribena and Tecno, to mention a few.
Some campaigns and initiatives have also stood out by winning awards and connecting deeply with consumer and prospects alike. The Mirinda Three Orange Men Campaign remains fresh in the memory of many middle-aged Nigerians, even till today, despite the fact that the ads ran 12 years ago. The Gulder Ultimate Search, Nigeria’s first big reality TV show, is perhaps the show with the highest followership on TV till date.
Also, Sterling Bank’s 1 Customer Campaign concept was developed by Insight and has helped position the financial institution better in the heart of many Nigerians. And who would forget Bank PHB’s immensely popular, paradigm-defying, and futuristic ad campaign? Many of these works are what set apart Insight from the rest of the field in the creative advertising sector.
About Seven Up Bottling Company
Seven-Up Bottling Company PLC (SBC) produced its first bottle of 7UP on the 1st October 1960, the same day Nigeria gained its Independence from the British colonial masters. Hence,it can be said that SBC and Nigeria are two destinies intertwined.
People are central to everything that the company does. Right from its loyal consumers who have supported the brands for the past 55 years, to its traders who have partnered with SBC over all these years to ensure the products can be found throughout Nigeria, it has one success story or the others. Most importantly, the SBC employees, through passion and love for the brands have created the spirit in the business to always exceed consumer and customer expectations.
The company is also obsessed with quality and follows PepsiCo global standards to ensure that they produce the best quality products across all the brands such as Pepsi, Mirinda, Teem, 7up, Mountain Dew and Aquafina.
Seven-Up Bottling Company really thinksglobal and act local to build lasting valuable relationships across all stakeholders that interact with its brands.
Although Pepsi is an international brand, the company ensures that everything it does is localized to connect and create value for our consumers.
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 its operations in Nigeria.