The Brief

The benefits of protein are not well understood: protein is good for everyone, and whey protein is the undisputed “best”. When Upbeat came to us with their tasty high whey protein dairy drink, they were keen to launch to a mass audience. However, being a protein drink, it would traditionally be dismissed as the preserve of the bodybuilding and the gym-going fraternity. But protein isn’t just for those obsessed by muscle growth, but rather a necessary part of sustaining a healthy and busy life, as it supports your stamina through the day.

We were challenged to change the way people and retailers thought about protein and to launch this unknown brand from an unknown company, driving sufficient awareness and trial of the product, growing store listings and establishing it as the leader in a new category. Once launched, we needed to maintain momentum around trial, as this would be key to unlocking the wider distribution, which would then allow Upbeat to pave the way for this new “healthy drink” category.

Our Solution

Although Upbeat is great for health conscious people and gym goers, we helped Upbeat identify a more mainstream audience to target. It is the busy person who leads a full life (commuters with little time, breakfast skippers and busy mums) that may not have time to get a balanced diet but would find Upbeat of greatest value.

To launch, we sacrificed national reach, to maximise our impact amongst our core London audience. They were greeted by rail and underground posters, commuter press and a variety of digital formats. This focused approach not only meant we were able to repeatedly reach our target audience along their routine morning and evening commute, but also to reach our valuable trade audiences, with a weight of a campaign that would have cost over £4m if run nationally.

The second phase of launch began two weeks later, and was a true media first. We negotiated a partnership between Spotify and Absolute Radio, two fierce rivals, which involved using the Spotify API on the Absolute Radio website for the first time ever. As part of an on-air breakfast promotion to find the UK’s top ten most upbeat tracks, and the scientific formula behind them, Absolute and Spotify drove listeners to an Upbeat playlist app hosted on their competition pages.

Our summer launch was followed up by strategic bursts where we re-iterated our presence in London with additional outdoor and print. We also identified Manchester as a key opportunity for our audience, and rolled out our successful London strategy there.

With new rivals launching every month, we continued to position ourselves as the leading expert of lifestyle protein consumption amongst our core audience with advertorials educating them on the helpful benefits of drinking protein.

The Results

The media strategy helped to focus the sales effort: only a year after launch, Upbeat is now stocked in Tesco, Waitrose, Co-operative, Holland & Barrett and Sainsbury’s. Sales are on a constant upward trajectory. BrandIndex awareness figures indicate that awareness in areas where we have spent are significantly up on the national average, and we are now working on phase two of our media strategy: getting Upbeat onto TV.

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