For years, ZICO has positioned itself as a natural alternative to traditional sports drinks, promoting its electrolyte-laden coconut water via a cultivated roster of sponsored athletes. Led by NBA star Kevin Garnett, “Team ZICO” includes a range of individuals who excel in diverse athletic endeavors such as yoga, surfing, triathlons and cycling. The mission is about “supporting and empowering athletes and actively minded people across the country who embody a naturally powered lifestyle,” according to a statement from ZICO.
However, the launch of a new multimillion dollar marketing campaign titled “Crack Life Open,” marks a significant shift in tone for ZICO, which became a wholly-owned brand of The Coca-Cola Co. last year. Led by actress Jessica Alba, who serves as “brand ambassador” for the campaign, ZICO is now positioned as an everyday, anytime type of beverage. In a statement about her involvement with the coconut water brand, Alba praised “Crack Life Open” as a campaign that’s about “living your best life by staying positive, being present and taking small steps towards balanced, healthy living that fit your lifestyle.”
In place of Team ZICO athletes and marketing that encouraged consumers to “Get More Oomph” (part of an ad campaign that debuted last year to mixed reviews), ZICO’s website now features scrolling images of Alba with a bottle of the coconut water, along with quotes and other taglines from the “Crack Life Open” campaign, including “live outside your shell.” Gone are any direct links to Team ZICO and the brand’s sponsored athletes.
In a New York Times article about the new campaign, ZICO Chief Marketing Officer Lorna Peters said that internal discussions about the positioning of the brand had centered around a desire to differentiate ZICO from other brands in the category, many of which also utilize sports drink-focused marketing.
“We realized that while sports marketing was helping us recruit and bringing consumers into the category, it wasn’t necessarily helping us pull apart from the other brands within the category,” Peters told The Times.
Instead, Peters and her team came to the conclusion that ZICO “really behaves and acts a lot like water, and we’re really competing in that premium water space.” She noted that the “bull’s-eye” for ZICO is male and female 30 year old consumers, yet the brand’s advertising skews more toward women, who she said represent approximately 60 percent of coconut water drinkers.
That philosophy is evident in ZICO’s new campaign, with marketing that resembles that of Smartwater, a brand well-known for images of the actress Jennifer Aniston splashed throughout advertisements for the bottled water. In new ZICO ads, brand messaging is clearly intended to appeal to female consumers with Alba is pictured in casual clothing amid the backdrop of a blue sky, alongside phrases like “hearts, minds and coconuts are better when open.”
ZICO stated that it has “doubled its annual media spend in 2014,” and that the “Crack Life Open” campaign will be featured in print, out-of-home (OOH) and digital advertising across the U.S. The brand will be promoted in health/fitness and lifestyle magazines like People, Men’s Health, Marie Claire and Real Simple, wallscapes and painted murals, double decker bus wraps, according to a ZICO statement.