Field Marketing

By The Drum, Administrator

July 19, 2002 | 6 min read

It’s a fruit’s life: the life of a pineapple and an apple is not as straightforward as one might think.

When Maxxium UK briefed ARC (formerly IMP) to promote their Sourz cocktail liqueur brand, they didn’t really know what they were letting themselves in for.

They did ask for maximum-impact, in-bar sampling activity and a media link to boost overall awareness of the brand and its three flavour variants – apple, peach and pineapple. What they got was giant fruits representing the Sourz flavours – roaming round towns across the UK and causing havoc in pubs and clubs up and down the country. All in the name of brand building.

Sourz’ versatility makes it ideal for cocktails, shooters, sippers, pitchers or neat on the rocks.

The brand’s target market is predominantly 21–25-year-old women, out for a night with friends. Funky, outgoing, fun and lively, they are into drinks with a more sophisticated, challenging flavour than pre-mixes and enjoy drinking in mainstream city centre bars with a mixed group of friends. The Sourz drinker is the life and soul of the party.

ARC MD, Joe McAspurn, explained: “Our brief was to launch two new flavour variants of Sourz – peach and pineapple – and increase awareness and visibility of the Sourz brand in key town and city centres. So the promotion had to combine media coverage with live sampling activity to generate trial and get the new product into people’s hands in a way that was engaging and reflected the very individual, playful and slightly off-the-wall nature of the brand.”

Key targets for sampling activity were student venues, YPV’s and clubs, and bars with a cocktail focus, and the challenge was to gain presence in-bar whilst tying in with a sampling/hit squad.

The campaign, then, had two elements – a radio promotion to make some noise about the brand and in-bar sampling activity. The promotion ran across 12 bars in each of seven cities over an eight-week period (Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Brighton).

Account executive Susan Findlay explained: “We used radio to promote the promotion since it’s a relatively inexpensive medium with great target market coverage.

Throughout the week listeners were asked to look out for a giant fruit that was roaming loose in the town. We had this guy dressed as an apple, peach or pineapple taking city bus tours, playing pitch and putt, busking, all sorts of things. When a listener rang in and said that he’d spotted him, they would win a night out with Sourz.”

In the evenings, the fruit would pitch up at the participating bars shortly before a five-man sampling team. According to Findlay: “The fruit’s role in the evening was simply to get the brand noticed. We sent him to the bars ahead of the sampling team to make sure people in the bar stayed there and would know that something was happening.”

The promotion is preceded by a merchandising visit to ensure that the bar is properly branded, remembering that the prime spots for placing POS are those areas that are most visible to customers: Entrance, Exit, Back Bar Area, Toilets and TV area. Only half of the tent-cards should be sited on tabletops, with the remaining being left for the bar to put out prior to their scheduled visit.

The sampling team ensure that the bar manager will arrange for the bar staff to be wearing branded T-shirts on the night.

When the team hit the bar their role was to distribute free samples of various Sourz flavours and to get the bar to participate in a “Find The Fruit” dating game. The Sourz game entailed 30 males and 30 females in each bar receiving a numbered Sourz flavour sticker. Samplers would encourage each person given a sticker to find their corresponding numbered partner, with the aid of a “Streetmate”-style compere, who made sure everyone in the bar knew what was happening. Couples who matched up correctly with their opposite number won an additional free Sourz.

Esther Higgins, one of the sampling team leaders for the promotion, said: “As soon as we hit the outlet we had to find somewhere to try to set up drinks, prepare garlands and stickers for the dating game. The hardest thing about this exercise was that there was no way of doing this while remaining quietly anonymous as we were very brightly dressed in orange, yellow and green, complete with headscarves and flower garlands. Add to this the fact that we were preceded by a human “fruit” (he was in the outlet for 30 minutes before we arrived) and you understand that we were attracting quite a lot of attention and creating quite a stir! Which, of course, made us extremely popular and ensured that the dating game was a hit.”

I suppose you could say that the promotion was a victim of its own success, in that many people were disappointed that they did not receive a sample. This is because usually we did not actually have enough samples for the number of people in the venue. The attention we attracted meant that we were being approached by most of the people in the outlet.

Many of the people sampled said that they actually drank the Apple flavour and would now buy the other two flavours. Others were genuinely pleasantly surprised by how drinkable it was. Others said that they did not think that that it tasted alcoholic! (Don’t actually know if that’s a good thing!)

On the whole, the fruit was a great icebreaker and a fantastic attention grabber. Who can ignore a six-foot pineapple walking around a club! Or a bright orange peach getting stuck in the door of a pub! The only drawback was that he was often a punch-bag for drunken crowds.


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