‘Vita Coco to emulate Red Bull and Innocent’

Vita Coco is embarking on its first UK above the line campaign, starring brand ambassador Rihanna, as it looks to drive growth in the nascent coconut water category.

Rihanna Vita Coco

The brand, which originally launched in the US in 2004 and was introduced to the UK in 2010, claims it is already the biggest selling coconut water drink in the UK, with a 96% share of the category.

Giles Brook, Vita Coco’s European CEO, says its forthcoming marketing campaign, will help boost the brand’s revenues to more than £25m this year. He predicts Vita Coco will help the entire coconut water category will be worth £100m in value by 2014, up from circa £20m this year. It was the fastest growing soft drinks and juices sector of 2011,

He told Marketing Week the brand has already earned a “cult status” by building the brand at a grass roots level, then overlaying wider marketing investment to help grow the category: “Think what Innocent did to the smoothie market, think what Red Bull did to energy; Vita Coco will do that and create the next big category [in the UK].”

The Rihanna fronted campaign, shot by fashion photograpaher Terry Richardson, will feature in key London outdoor locations. The brand is hoping to reach 10 million people with its billboard sites and 5 million people with its tube posters. Digital, press, experiential and in-store activity will also feature as part of the “Viva Vita” campaign, which aims to drive trial and increase brand engagement with existing customers.

Brook says while the activity is fronted by a female pop icon, it is not particularly skewed towards women and that the product is “the real ambassador”.

“We aren’t trying to push the brand on to the consumer. This campaign is more about intrigue and letting people decide how and where to drink Vita Coco – whether that be because of its refreshing qualities, or they want to be healthy or because it reminds them of relaxing on the beach in Brazil,” he adds.

In the US, Vita Coco settled a class action lawsuit earlier this year after consumers argued claims in its marketing saying the drink was “super water” and “nutrient packed” were found to be misleading. As a result, Vita Coco said it would adapt its marketing to reflect the “natural variability” of coconut water and it agreed to provide $5m of refunds to customers and charity donations.

Brook says the European brand has taken a full review of its marketing and packaging and that the company is certain it is now being as open as possible, to avoid further litigation.

He adds: “There is a track record that brands that go through meteoric growth are always knocked but all we know is that we are certain we are as transparent as we possibly can be and have a responsibility to do so.”

Social media activity for the campaign is being handled by The Eleven, while design consultancy FiveFootSix worked on the creative.

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