Media: Strategy Analysis - Making a soft drink a London Ting

Brand: Ting Client: Pepsi Americas Brief: Consumer launch for Ting - Jamaica's number one soft drink Target audience: Multicultural urban 15- to 24-year-olds Budget: Less than £250,000 AGENCIES Communications planning: Goodstuff Creative: Emap, GCap Website: 12foot6 Media buying: Manning Gottlieb OMD


Born in Jamaica and almost unknown over here, Ting is a sweet grapefruit crush. Other soft drinks use pop music and pop culture, which is disposable, lacking in depth and expensive. Just how much do Britney or Beckham go for? This brand and budget needed a very different approach.

To get a taste of the true Ting, Goodstuff met representatives of Jamaican and UK culture, from dancehall queens to pirate DJs to carnival experts.

Goodstuff found that Jamaican-ness isn't the most relevant message to the youth audience. Jamaican heritage starts and ends in the home, where Ting remains part of their parents' culture. Ting needed to break out and position in a credible way. By far the most important driver for youth groups is musical taste, which informs all other self-definition. That identity is rooted in friends, schools, neighbourhoods and then city.

Goodstuff chose London as the largest and most vibrantly diverse youth audience and the best region for distribution gains. The agency created "It's a London Ting" as a campaign driven by the influences and creativity of the audience. This was developed through associations with credible youth music brands, taking Ting out of the world of advertising and well away from "pop".


- Radio: Goodstuff created a month-long relationship with Kiss 100 and Choice FM to get the audience to provide the content for two "It's a London Ting"-branded CD releases. Listeners sent in their new music tracks to feature with artists from the stations. The music could be any genre, the only stipulation was that the track feature the line: "It's a London Ting." Ting also offered the winners an ad campaign to support the release of these singles. The tracks featured on the station playlists were also played in clubs.

Radio ads were also used for product support. Goodstuff worked with the stations to create advertising tailored to the stations and their listeners.

- Retail: The two singles were exclusively available at 19 Virgin Megastores - a first for a consumer brand, with both Kiss and Choice supporting the releases. Goodstuff used their logos on the CDs and on Ting's off-air ads, which also featured the Megastores logo.

- Online: www.itsalondonting. com contained an online mixer to make tracks, to include those without innate musical talent. This was linked to microsites on each of the stations' websites.

- Press and outdoor: The singles were supported by bookends in Metro and an Underground four-sheet campaign, Megastores catchments and high traffic stations. Goodstuff also took Ting to the Notting Hill Carnival with 8,500 fake Not-Ting Hill street-signs.


Ting received 87 tracks and chose three for the 3,000 CDs produced so far. Goodstuff also commissioned independent research which showed post-campaign spontaneous awareness of Ting at 9 per cent (Lilt 10 per cent) and prompted at 23 per cent (Lilt 54 per cent). Sixty-one per cent of those exposed to the activity were more likely to try Ting. No-one was put off by it. This translated into a sales uplift of 38.4 per cent compared with June/July 2004.

THE VERDICT - Tony Manwaring communications planning director, Initiative

Ting is "almost completely unknown" in a market devoid of true product differentiation, with a budget barely enough to achieve 0.5 per cent share of voice. However, the agency created a solution that helped achieve "claimed" spontaneous awareness (in London) close to that of the Lilt behemoth. That's enough, I would have thought, to have the Lilt brand manager on the phone to his agency, asking some very awkward questions.

The energy and detail applied to this campaign is worthy of a whole galaxy of stars in itself. Faced by big, famous brands that create differentiation through advertising excess and starry-eyed associations, a different approach was the only possible approach. As a planner, that's the kind of brief you dream of. Ting has a real brand heritage, a real back-story, which makes it rare in a market of manufactured brands. As a planner, this only adds to the allure of the challenge.

I must confess to a little disappointment with the solution, which was clever, but lacked any real insight or connected platform.

Yes, music is important. Yes, it makes sense to borrow third-party values in Kiss100 and Choice FM. Using "it's a London Ting" as the line is OK.

Asking home-based DJs to incorporate the line into their own mixes is pretty much all you could do to attach the brand to the promo.

Nothing wrong with that, but any brand could have put its name to it.

There is no affiliation between the product story and the solution. And, if music is the solution, surely it should have been reggae, the music of Jamaica.

That's not the real issue, though. If your budget is "challenging", you don't spread it thinly across five separate channels. You either develop deep relationships with fewer people, or you talk to as many of the right people as impactfully as you can - making the Carnival the platform, for example.You can't do both.

Goodstuff's ethnographic research suggested that Jamaican-ness wasn't wholly relevant to the audience. Perhaps they could have found a way to make Jamaican-ness relevant. When you have something unique to say, say it uniquely.

But then what do I know? If sales did increase by 38 per cent, maybe Lilt should invest in a recording studio.

SCORE: 3/5.

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