Sprite Zero Sugar's launch campaign is all about getting to the point
The new design eschews the white and silver accents, lemon shapes and explosive speech bubble for a pared-back design that champions bold, black typography.
According to Aaliyah Shafiq Ely, brand lead and sparkling flavors (non-cola) category lead at The Coca-Cola Company, the redesign has been, above everything else, an exercise in listening, from start to finish.
“The beginning of the process is actually the same as the middle and the end, which is just continuing to listen to what our fans and our communities are looking for and wanting, and so we are seeing just an acceleration of choices beyond sugar-free options, and want to have really dedicated communications and messaging behind Sprite Zero Sugar in particular.”
Another spot from Sprite Zero Sugar's global launch - we've all been there!
Alongside listening to the broader community, the other key to this journey has been the diversity of the team driving the refresh and the new campaign.
“It really was a diversity of ideas and perspectives that came together because we, on this Sprite Zero Sugar team are not all from the same place,” says Aaliyah. “We're not all from the same background. Some people have been in the creative space their entire careers, for some, it was a first foray into it. Really, taking the diversity of perspectives and people has been key to making the Sprite Zero sugar campaign as great as it is.”
Just as Coca-Cola has moved away from the heavily gendered association with sugar-free varieties with the advent of Coke Zero, so too is Sprite Zero Sugar. Gone are the light accents and more gentle stylings often associated with reduced sugar - Sprite Zero Sugar is bold and the design choice to go with black on the logo and bottle accents is a far cry from the gendered design of diet drinks of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Indeed, the choice of the black font is reminiscent of Sprite's stablemate Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
“Sprite and Sprite Zero sugar is for everyone. So we are not targeting any specific demographic. So whether you are a man or woman or identify differently, or no matter what your age is, and even from a geographic perspective, this is a global campaign built on a global insight of wanting choice behind delicious sugar-free options,” says Aaliyah. “So this is definitely a broad-appealing product as well as a campaign.”
Sprite Zero Sugar before and after
The Sprite Zero Sugar rebrand follows hot on the heels of last year’s Sprite classic rebrand and global campaign ‘Heat Happens’. As well as taking design cues from the new Sprite classic look in terms of the font and aesthetics, the team were also able to learn a lot about how to develop and roll out a major rebrand and global campaign at the same time.
The key insight, Aaliyah says, is to keep pushing and iterating on ideas and to stay flexible throughout the process, rather than sticking to a rigid roadmap, unresponsive to changes in the wider world.
“We definitely took some learnings from the ‘Heat Happens’ launch, making sure that we had people from various markets represented. And what we also did was to make sure that we were iterating along the way. So you could have a great idea at the very beginning. But is it still a great idea as you continue to learn and evolve? So we were being very agile in that sense of not just sticking to the first thing that came to mind. But as we learned from ‘Heat Happens’, it's about iterating andnd really staying flexible because attitudes change and markets change. So that is a key learning that we definitely stole shamelessly from the ‘Heat Happens’ launch and applied here for Sprite Zero Sugar.”
The Heat Happens campaign launched the Sprite Classic rebrand in 2022 and set the tone
The first inklings of a rebrand emerged in 2021 and the design and creative process rolled out across 2022. In terms of timing, the launch comes as people are very much embedded in the post-lockdown ‘new normal’ - and the content reflects this.
“Our fans are clamouring for just being open and experiencing newness because they have the physical ability to do this now. And so it was a great opportunity for some, as they are going out and about more, to have a new option, as well as maybe a refresh option for others in Sprites Zero Sugar. So the timing did work out quite well, again, based on what people were asking for and what they were doing in their daily habits.”
Creatively, the launch campaign had a very tricky balance to strike. The team were keen to ensure a degree of continuity with the Sprite Classic ‘Heat Happens’ launch campaign - but it also had to be unique enough to clearly celebrate Sprite Zero Sugar as a product in its own right.
Another careful balancing act was to create a campaign that was inspired by the energy of gen z but which could also appeal to everyone, regardless of their age. The launch campaign reflects the fast-paced reality of today and our need to quickly filter through information to get to the relevant stuff - something that’s characterised in the campaign by younger protagonists but is highly relatable.
“We did use gen z as the inspiration, but if this is a true human insight, it’s going to apply, no matter what generation you're in or how you identify. And so that was one of the things that we really took to heart - making sure that it was true to gen z, without alienating anyone else,” explains Aaliyah.
Yet another variable the team had to navigate was the sheer variety of places that the new brand has to show up and pop. Since the last time Sprite and Sprite Zero Sugar had a redesign, the number of platforms and touchpoints has proliferated.
“We truly did look at all the different places that Sprite may show up. Of course, the one that comes to mind immediately is on the package itself. We had mock-ups of what it looks like digitally - what it looks like in your hand on your phone… on a billboard… on a fountain machine in a restaurant. We tried to mock it up and put it in as many spaces and experiences that would really happen in real life,” says Aaliyah. “It is a huge undertaking to think about changing what a brand stands for.”
Throughout the journey, OpenX, WPP’s bespoke agency for Coca-Cola has accompanied the marketing team through every step of the rebranding process and creative ideation.
“Similarly to how we have people across our strike team from different markets, and even different disciplines, we had the same thing from our OpenX partner. So they came from different geographies, and they had various expertise, from creative strategy to design to human insights, andnd they really partnered with us along the way. It wasn't like they jumped in and jumped out, it was a journey that we all took from the beginning. It’s been a great partnership,” says Aaliyah. “I would say sometimes it was difficult to say who was working for the company and who was working for the agency, because we were all in it together.”
Aaliyah Shafiq Ely reflects on the diversity of the team driving Sprite Zero Sugar's new design and her excitement at seeing the rebrand and global campaign come to life
While the campaign itself does not reference the global economic situation, the cost of living pressures hitting many markets was a strategic concern.
“That definitely came up from an overall brand, strategy and commercial perspective,” says Aaliyah. “And in the same way that we're offering choice from what the product stands for, we're also offering choice with how it comes to life. So there are affordable packages, different sizes, and different price points, so that you can still enjoy Sprite and Sprite Zero Sugar, no matter how little or how much you may want to spend. We definitely thought about making sure that we had options that can meet various budgets, throughout the economies that may be fluctuating no matter where you live in the world.”
Ultimately, Aaliyah says, the team hopes that the new branding and global campaign will help fuel both Sprite Zero Sugar’s growth and the overall success of the Sprite brand. “We are hoping that the momentum continues. Sprite Zero Sugar has been a driving force for the overall trademark growth,” reveals Aaliyah. “We also hope we are able to introduce Sprite Zero Sugar to some who maybe have never heard of it, or had the opportunity to actually try it.”
And on a personal level, Aaliyah reflects that the project is one that she and the whole team is immensely proud of. Understandably, getting a project like this from brainstorm to billboard, for a brand as big as Sprite is no mean feat, particularly when it covers every single design element across every single touchpoint.
“So many different initiatives that one will encounter in a career start off as good ideas, but they may not make it outside of the four walls of the conference room or out of the office. And so what has been really satisfying for me with Sprite Zero Sugar is that not only has it actually come to life, but it has come to life on such a big scale, meaning that there was that one singular insight about giving options from a sugar-free perspective.,” says Aaliyah. “It has really been able to go across boundaries, go across markets, and really resonate, no matter where people are in the world.”