Reize Energy Drink: the brand that boosted awareness by getting deadpan to the extreme
Here’s how Marty Spargo and Steven Macdonald turned Reize into the Dollar Shave Club of energy drinks.
This article originally appeared in The Generation Issue, our June/July 2017 issue of Marketing magazine.
Campaign: ‘Deadpan Guy’
Brand: Reize Energy Drink
Reize Energy Drink is a direct-to-consumer ecommerce brand that was started by co-founders and childhood friends Marty Spargo and Steven Macdonald. Their vision is to turn Reize (pronounced ‘rise’) into the Dollar Shave Club of energy drinks. The product that will get them there is a humble sachet of powder that can be mixed with water to create a great tasting, sugar-free energy drink.
Prior to the ‘Deadpan Guy’ campaign, Reize had been available in the Australian market for two years, during which time it had built a small but loyal following. The drink was popular with all of the usual suspects: video gamers, endurance athletes and university students, but also other groups of all ages. By communicating directly with customers, the team came to the realisation that the energy drink market had matured.
Once it realised how broad the target market actually was, the company came to understand that copying the approach of other energy drinks brands was a mistake. It was time to broaden its marketing.
The campaign had to achieve a number of important objectives:
- Brand awareness: maximum awareness and exposure in the Australian marketplace.
- Product education: one of the challenges that Reize faced was that people didn’t understand the product. The market was so indoctrinated by energy drinks coming carbonated and in an aluminium can, that people couldn’t wrap their heads around one that could be mixed hot, cold, fizzy or smooth. The versatility of Reize was also proving to be one of its biggest challenges.
- Lead generation: email addresses are the lifeblood of an online subscription model business. This campaign had to generate a lot of leads, cheaply.
- Virality: this objective was as much about cost-effectiveness as it was about generating a buzz. Maximum reach for dollar spent. The campaign needed to be highly engaging and shareable.
Actor: Michael Knott
Voiceover: Michael Anthony Taylor
Filmography: Mark Brightwell
First edit: Mark Brightwell
Second edit: Amalia Walker
Digital marketing advisor: Daniel Young
Every successful campaign starts with a great idea and has an element of luck. Reize got both of these at the very beginning. They were given the idea for ‘Deadpan Guy’ by a talented young filmmaker with a background in marketing. To save money, Reize’s founders wrote all of the scripts, personally organised every aspect of the film shoots and even acted in some of the videos.
Reize had already made the decision to be an online subscription model. One thing that Reize focused on was collecting very detailed information about its target market through surveys and sampling. This gave the team insights into their consumers, which informed all aspects of the campaign.
The team knew that 87.5% of people like the taste of Reize and wanted a tagline that represented this. The actor playing Deadpan Guy spontaneously came up with ‘Most Flavoursome’. He said it one day in a husky voice, imitating one of the patrons from the bar he worked at, and everyone cracked up laughing. In the way that only start-ups can, it was immediately adopted as the tagline.
Another known data point was that the target audience was an even split of male and female, and that the age of their customers was evenly spread from 18 to 45. By analysing their sales data, the team knew that people over the age of 30 were twice as ‘sticky’ as those under 30. The older demographic was important.
Research revealed that the top four things people dislike about energy drinks are the cost, sugar, the lack of energy boost and the flavour. Informing its content plan, the brand then produced an ad highlighting that Reize is cheap, sugar free, has a great energy boost and tastes great.
‘Deadpan Guy’ was rolled out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. A budget of $25,000 was allocated for online ad spend.
Facebook was the primary platform for the rollout of ‘Deadpan Guy’. The reason being that the small team at Reize was experienced with Facebook advertising, and testing showed that the cost per 10 seconds viewed on Facebook was much cheaper than other platforms. YouTube was competitive, but Reize didn’t have the loyal following built up on YouTube and wanted to focus on one platform.
The entirety of Reize’s $25,000 spend was allocated to Facebook, split up into a full-funnel marketing strategy as follows:
- Phase one: Awareness/brand recall ($10,000). This involved maximising video views and engagement on the main ad to try and drive virality. Every other metric (shares, engagement, brand recall) tied back to one: maximising views.
- Phase two: Consideration ($5000). Remarketing to drive website traffic and generate Facebook page likes.
- Phase three: Lead generation ($8000). Email address capture was one of the key measures of success for this campaign and was done in two ways: offering free samples and running a competition.
- Phase four: Conversions ($2000). Remarketing ads were shown to anyone who had visited the Reize website in phase two, or who had provided their lead in phase three.
Instagram was an important component of the ‘Deadpan Guy’ campaign, but, apart from a small percentage of the phase-one spend (video views) being allocated to Instagram, it was mostly organic. Reize created shorter ‘Instagram’ versions of every video, and had a wealth of photos and memes to deploy.
Twitter was purely organic, but the Reize team committed to making as many posts per day as possible and engaging with everyone who posted on Twitter.
Reize used Snapchat to post behind-the-scenes footage and unique content that was not shown anywhere else.
All video content was posted to YouTube and appropriately tagged, but no money was spent advertising on the platform.
Engagement: Engagement was a central component of this campaign’s success, and Reize made an absolute commitment to engage with every single person who commented, liked or shared a post.
As a brand awareness and launch campaign exercise, ‘Deadpan Guy’ was a resounding success for the young startup.
Some important numbers missed target, such as monthly subscribers (482 versus 600) while others far exceeded target, such as video views (2.5 million versus 600k) and one-time purchases (423 versus 300).
Here is Deadpan Guy by the numbers:
- 2.5 million views,
- 412,000 estimated lifetime Reize Energy Drink sales uplift,
- 294,000 estimate advert recall lift,
- 38,325 website traffic,
- 33,280 Energy Drinks sold,
- 31,324 new email addresses,
- 9,778 post reactions,
- 4,714 net increase in FB page likes,
- 580 shares,
- 482 new monthly subscribers,
- 423 one-time purchases, and
- 198 fan deadpanning submissions.