How Feel Good Drinks increased its brand value through marketing that ‘feels good’

After its acquisition by Vimto-owners Nichols Plc in 2016, Feel Good Drinks went through one of the more successful brand relaunches in recent memory. In addition to introducing a new logo, new contemporary flavours and a refreshed packaging design highlighting its health credentials, the 100% natural soft drinks brand pulled off perhaps one of the bravest stunts of that year (especially for those participating), extending a message of body positivity and bringing a new meaning to the phrase 'all natural'.

The stunt, which formed the basis for a wider integrated campaign, saw 100 women go skinny dipping in a picturesque, and secluded, lake in Spain as part of a documentary style film organised by an all-female crew and led by director Nicky Woodhouse from Maker Projects.

According to Becky Unwin, senior brand manager at Feel Good Drinks, going from idea to execution was a challenge. “There was a slight risk of how it would be perceived. Turns out, we needn’t have worried! We sense-checked our idea with fans of the brand before we went ahead. We had a real mixture of women involved in the video, who were all volunteers and were excited to get involved and do something fun together, for a brand they feel passionately about.”

At the time, Graham Drury, partner at Driven said "obviously the brand is called Feel Good, so the clue is in the name. We wanted to capture something that actually meant something. It’s all about this feeling of liberation and freedom.”

Feelings of liberation and freedom in the current economic and political climate aren’t exactly on the up. As ‘fakes news’ permeates everything from politics to social media, and trust in our largest institutions hits an all-time low, it’s refreshing to encounter a brand that just wants to make you feel good – and then delivers on that promise.

Just a few months after the brand overhaul, Feel Good Drinks delivered the summer friendly campaign inspired by a ‘life’s for living’ attitude that runs through everything the brand does, from the infamous skinny dip, to sponsoring the Big Weekend at Manchester Pride to linking up with breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel!.

“Our partnership with Coppafeel, a charity very close to our hearts and one that is focused on continuing to help women feel good, was key for spreading a positive message. We wanted to produce something that embodied our 100% natural ethos, and celebrated living in the moment” says Unwin. “Ten of their ambassadors participated in the skinny dip. This meant the event not only formed the basis of our advertising, but also helped raise awareness of the important work they do.”

Providing people with the feel-good factor paid off for the business as well as supporting an important cause, and body positive movement. The 100% natural film was viewed over 2.4 million times in just three months and overall, and the campaign had a reach of a staggering 9.2million, with over 70,000 people trailing the new product (smashing the campaign KPI’s of reaching 7.4 million and 30,000 trials).

‘Feel Good Summer’ also managed to win over buyers, moving the brand 3 percentage points between the start of the campaign and the end. To top it off, Feel Good Drinks picked up one of the biggest awards of the night at the Drum Marketing Awards 2018.

With the infused water category growing at +2% year-on-year, and people moving away from mainstream soft drinks due to concerns over sugar levels and artificial additives, the opportunity is there for a different type of soft drink brand. With its new look products now sold in over 20,000 outlets in 14 different countries, including in supermarkets and bars, the company is still on a mission to make the nation ‘feel good’.

“We’re starting 2019 as we mean to go on – revitalised, re-energised and ready to take the food service industry by storm,” says Unwin. “We’ve developed our focus in the Out of Home channel, especially casual dining, cafes and other Food To Go outlets. We know our target audience values new experiences. As a result, we’ve evolved the Feel Good packaging design to emphasise the natural credentials of the product and ensure the bottles stand out.”

And while there may not be another skinny dip on the horizon, for Feel Good Drinks, its marketing strategy will always come down creating an inclusive, positive and memorable experience for its customers.

“Experiential is key and is showing no signs of slowing,” explains Unwin. “Disruptive ads or immersive experiences that get people talking – and sharing across their social channels – can be hugely successful. When designing a strategy, consider brand events that stir genuine positive emotions within people. They’re more likely to associate those emotions with your brand, which can often be a lot more effective than a straightforward ad.”

As customers we are often overwhelmed with choice. More and more we are able to see through the overblown promises we see every day in advertising – particularly from health and beauty brands. We are increasingly prioritising experiences over possessions which is perhaps why the Feel Good Summer campaign was so successful (winning as Emerging Brand of the Year at The Drum Marketing Awards).

They couldn’t have gotten further away from a ‘straightforward ad’ if they tried. It’s not often you read the words ‘knicker stickers’ and ‘liberated’ together and it ends up being a first-person account about an interaction with a brand. It’s a lesson in building a brand in the experience era; ditch the fakery, know what you stand for, take informed risks and prioritise positive experiences.

Because in times like these, we need a reason to feel good.

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