Lucozade Sport preps £10m ad drive with Steven Gerrard

Lucozade Sport is putting Liverpool FC’s Steven Gerrard and grassroots athletes at the heart of a £10m advertising campaign to introduce a fresh product benefit claim after it was forced to amend its message following censure from the ad watchdog.

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Liverpool FC and England captain Steven Gerrard will front a £10m campaign for Lucozade Sport.

The “Fuel to Rule” push launches nationwide in April and is the first from the brand since it was sold by GSK to Japanese soft drinks giant Suntory last September.

It replaces Lucozade Sport’s previous “Hydrates and Fuels you better than Water” strapline with “Enhances Hydration, Fuels Performance”. The switch comes after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled the previous claim breached guidelines and could not be used.

Lucozade says the update reflects the brand’s ambition to become “more than just a sports drink” and position itself as an authority on performance. The shift will see more marketing pounds ploughed into content creation and social media to support what it claims will be more emotive Grey London-created TV ads.

The first of which stars professional athletes such England captain Gerrard and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain alongside grassroots runners and swimmers in a series of vignettes to showcase the dedication needed to be successful at all levels of sport.

Dave Stratton, brand development director for Lucozade Sport, says the creative aims to pull its advertising away from the more “functional” tone set by previous campaigns and bring it closer to the “emotional highs” of sport. It will see the brand focus more on promoting endurance sports such as cycling and marathon running for the first time in a bid to appeal more to people with active lifestyles.

It is hoped the changes can spur demand for the drink after it retuned to annual growth in 2013 at 6.8 per cent for the first time in four years.

Stratton spoke to Marketing Week about the brand’s switch to more emotional marketing, the impact of new owners Suntory on its marketing strategy and World Cup plans.

Marketing Week (MW): Why focus on giving the brand an emotional centre off the back of the more functional messaging driving strong growth?

Dave Stratton (DS): We had a really strong 2013 where we were able to get the brand back to growth in both volume and value after a difficult few years. It’s the perfect time to assess how we connect with our audience and highlight the emotional benefits of the brand particularly with the World Cup this summer. We’re a functional product that’s all about bringing the functional benefits to the table in terms of fuel and hydration during sport but we play in a emotional world. That’s why the marketing is evolving to push the brand in an emotive way rather than being matter of fact when we talk to fans.

MW: What learnings have you taken from the previous Lucozade Sport campaign being banned for misleading claims?

DS: The majority of what we did last year with the [£9m] ‘Last Man Standing’ campaign was fine according to the ASA ruling. We can still claim Lucozade Sport ‘Hydrates you better Water’, however, the challenge was around us saying it ‘fuels you better than water’. The ASA acknowledged our argument that Lucozade does fuel you better than water because it contains carbohydrates and water doesn’t but that did not adhere to EU authorized health claims. We tweaked the language of our performance claim slightly to be inline with the regulation. It forms the crux of what what we’re trying to say through the campaign, which is that you need to balance determination with being properly fuelled and hydrated to achieve success.   

MW: How have you adapted the brand’s marketing strategy since the creation of Lucozade Ribena Suntory?

DS: The key thing for us is to look at those marketing channels that are going to help us connect with sports and exercise participants. ECRM is going to be key to do that and ensure that we’ve got minimal wastage in terms our media spend. As we build up our database of sports participants we will have a direct channel to give them things like training plans for marathons, running tips, tips for fuel and education along with further education around performance management in sports. TV and outdoor media will still be important for the brand but we’re definitely shifting towards a more targeted strategy.

We want to become an authority on sport and through innovation we’re looking at how we can improve the performance claim of fuel and hydration beyond drinks. We have a sports nutrition bars, [energy] gels and [drink] powders that we also want to expand.

MW: How are you planning to promote the brand around this summer’s World Cup?

DS: The World Cup is a big opportunity for us, particularly because we are the official sports drink of the England team and have Gerrard and Oxlade-Chamberlain as our brand ambassadors. We’re going to be using both players in a TV ad closer to the event as well as featuring them on in-store promotions. A big experiential push is also being developed.

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