Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
People performing outrageous stunts in the name of fleeting internet fame is nothing new in the online world. "America's Funniest Home Videos," which debuted in 1989, helped to popularize sharing silly videos and elevate amateur videographers to stardom. In that vein, Fanta's latest ad campaign celebrates the folks behind some of these "hilariously dumb videos" online — a man performing giraffe gymnastics and a robed guy sliding down an icy road with a cup of coffee — to free the idiot that lives in everyone.
The Coca-Cola soda brand's playful ode to idiots, called "In the Name of Play," takes on a style that's typically reserved for sports ads. Fanta follows the category's classic creative formula of slow-motion cinematography, intense soundtrack and shots of grueling training and ice baths, but swap athletes for real-life influencers.
"If being an idiot can lead to greatness, then that's a sacrifice worth making," a voiceover says in the campaign's 90-second anthem spot, Fanta's first work with agency 72andSunny Amsterdam.
Underpinning the silly videos is a deeper brand purpose message around, ironically, purposeless play.
"It's been great working with a brand willing to rethink what their purpose can and should be," 72andSunny Amsterdam's Creative Director Chris Colliton said.
An ode to idiots
The 90-second hero spot, "Idiots Are Amazing," kicks off a multichannel campaign that's set to run over the next year in Europe and includes digital extensions and out-of-home (OOH) activations. Fanta is intentionally targeting "boring" locations such as bus stops and turning the spaces into unexpected play opportunities.
A 60-second TV spot and several 15-second clips highlighting individual influencers round out the campaign's digital effort. A local element will let specific markets feature their hometown on social media in a weekly show, called "Epic Nonsense," highlighting the best user-generated content that depicts how Fanta fans participate in purposeless play. The soda brand kicked off the push this month in Spain, Portugal and Norway, and will later bring it to Germany, Ireland, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
Fanta's multichannel campaign includes a combination of OOH advertising, video clips of varying lengths and weekly social activations to encourage UGC and get fans to more directly engage with the brand. Younger fans, which have been a key audience of Fanta for years, tend to consume more media on their smartphone than older generations. Enlisting influencers and bringing entertaining content to teens' preferred channels will likely help Fanta build its brand as a fun and relatable beverage option, especially as it continues to focus on teens and extend its broader play-focused messaging.
"In a world that's become so serious, we believe in play," 72andSunny says on its website. "...We found the greatest icons of play on the internet and celebrated the blood, sweat and tears that go into becoming a true play champion."
Fanta and 72andSunny watched hundred of online videos to find the right balance of content creators to star in the ads, narrowing the list down to a mix of people such as Trym Nordgaard, whose 2016 clip titled "How to drink your morning coffee in Norway," went viral. The latest extension to "In the Name of Play" aims to promote lighthearted fun.
Fanta and the agency also consulted a behavioral scientist and the founder of Togetherness Movement, an organization that hosts experiential events and workshops focused on connection and meaning, as "play experts" to drive home the campaign's message about play's role in nurturing happy, creative communities.
"All the research shows that the world needs more purposeless play and that it makes for happier, more creative and sociable people. And of course, it's fun, so what's not to like," Coca-Cola's SVP of Marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa Walter Susini said.
Positivity-oriented brand building
Fanta's idiot-centered campaign is the latest in a handful of brand-building efforts designed to help people forge connections in uncertain and divisive times.
Last spring, fellow beverage brand Mike's Hard Lemonade launched a similar effort to combat news fatigue by delivering smile-inducing content through a S(ad) Blocker homepage takeover of The Washington Post. Since the launch of Mike's bright mantra in 2017, the alcohol brand has seen a 20-point lift in brand favorability and 18-point bump in purchase consideration among target buyers, potentially pointing to gains linked to consumers' desire for positive content.
In Fanta's case, the idea is that younger consumers might be more receptive to marketing messages that promote positivity and humor amid negative news.
"No one ever talks about idiots in a positive light. But after watching hundreds of hilarious videos from all over the world, it's safe to say that some idiots are truly amazing," Colliton said.