Emergen-C Vitamin Drink Mix

Emergen-C had been growing, but was beginning to flounder as the Sales and Marketing teams struggled to find direction.  The CEO brought us in to help assess and manage the existing teams, evaluate the business plans, and plot a path forward to return the brand to strong growth.  After several months and further discussions, we agreed to turn our initial temporary assignment into a full time permanent one.  We stayed with the company as it returned to growth, focused resources on demonstrable strategies and tactics, and played a key role in the sale process.  We stayed on to transition the brand and departments for the first six months post-acquisition by Pfizer.


Discovering the Power in ‘Emergen-C’

After a couple of years of running the same upbeat advertising, the brand wanted to understand if new advertising could help increase the growth rate and fuel everyday usage.


We undertook extensive research into how consumers interacted with the brand, when, where and why.  We identified a key barrier for those who were not using the brand at all or very often – the name.  Of course, we were not going to change the brand name, but what could we do?  We brought various ideas before them trying to determine if one could move the needle.  However, none were working.


It was then that we asked the agency to embrace the name and try a new approach.  We can’t tell you what the exact idea was, but consumers embraced it and the result was “My Emergen-C.” This campaign idea was then rolled across the entire marketing platform including digital and social media.  As a result, we received thousands of stories from our consumers – some of which made it into future ads.

The “My Emergen-C” Television and Print Ads


Emergen-C Radio Spots

“Busy Day” Spot


“Hero” Spot


“Wards Off Everything” Spot


Unleashing the Brand in Social Media

Social media was exploding and the brand team wanted to get in, but was afraid of running afoul of the FDA who had yet to issue guidance, but was threatening action.  As a result, the brand’s efforts had been minimal and our presences was small (only one tweet in a year on Twitter) and less than 50k fans on Facebook.


Develop a process to allow the Company to actively participate in the exploding Social Media universe.  This process had to be flexible enough to deal with the sometimes near-immediate need to post and respond on line.  We wanted to reach 250k fans on Facebook within the first 12 months and resurrect our Twitter presence.


Consulting with outside counsel, we determined that the FDA was likely to at least follow the guidelines associated with advertising claims.  With this understanding in hand, we designed social media guidelines that would allow existing claims and non-claims posts to be managed by the Marketing team without needing formal approval from the company’s normal advertising approval process.  We hired a full-time social media marketing associate to manage our Twitter feeds and Facebook posts.  We engaged our fans in ways that were determined to be meaningful to them using the brand’s somewhat quirky and fun tone.  We brought people’s stories to life, enabled peer sampling, had fruit singing our praises, plus more.  We worked with Vilocity Interactive and Walrus to bring our brand essence consistently to life in social media.  As a result, the brand blew past 500,000 fans and is well on its way to 1Million!

Emergen-C Story Campaign


“Say It With Fruit” App


The “Say It With Fruit” Campaign let Facebook users send messages to their friends featuring talking fruit. Try It Out!


Ensuring a Consistent Consumer Experience

The Emergen-C brand had an inconsistent presence across its marketing mediums.  Sampling, television, radio, website, trade shows, in-store promotional vehicles, and events bore minimal resemblance to each other.  While these were generally consistent with the brand itself, they lacked continuity as consumers followed the brand from one venue to another.


Working with the Marketing, Trade and Agency teams, it became apparent that the Company was not being disciplined enough, lacked brand standards, and therefore was not enforcing a consistent approach throughout its work.  Additionally, internal and external teams were not sufficiently sharing plans and projects with each other.  As a result, teams in one department or agency often were not aware of what the others were doing or what future directions were being considered by Marketing.


With the upcoming rollout of our “My Emergen-C” campaign, we knew that our agencies would need to be on the same page if we were going to be successful.  We also knew that this represented the perfect time to ensure alignment.  We gathered our external partners (consumer advertising, digital, social, PR, packaging, product placement) and internal (marketing, Trade, design) in NYC for an “all hands” meeting to discuss our objectives, needs, and desire to have a consistent consumer presence.  We encouraged cross sharing of ideas and creative files, and created an extensive Brand standards book.  We made it clear that we would not accept any silo mentality.   Probably the best example of how this all came together was the total makeover of the emergenc.com website led by Vilocity Interactive.  They were able to bring our new advertising, packaging, and social media presence to bear in a seamless fashion.  As a result, for the first time, consumers encountered a consistent look and feel for the brand across mediums.

Taking Control of Trade Spending

The Company’s spending rates were well above 21% and growing.  The Sales team was allowing the broker to make too many promotional decisions and was not taking the time to analyze the results before signing up for another year.  The broker’s objectives did not appear to be in line with ours.  Worse yet, deductions were being routinely approved without accurately matching them to calendared events.


We needed to shave several points of promotional spending off while not losing retail and promotional presence.  We also needed to align our Broker and Sales teams with our need for measured objectives followed up by quantitative analysis.


We fully implemented the MEI trade promotion management solution and brought full responsibility for its accuracy and use in house.  We required promotional analysis on events before signing up for additional ones, and cut excess funding from the Natural channel to brings its spending in line with FDM.  Further, all deductions over $500 were required to be matched to the approved event.  The Broker and Sales Managers were bonused upon the effectiveness of the events and the accuracy of the data.  As a result, the brand was able to grow while decreasing Trade spending by over 3%.  The Trade team also identified over $500,000 in erroneous claims or duplicate/unearned payments that were recovered.



Packaging Redesign Energizes Brand

The Emergen-C brand had been around for more than 30 years and had undergone very few packaging design changes during that time.   The previous redesign of the packaging in the late 2000’s brought continuity to the line, but it already seemed dated; further, differentiating between flavors and versions at a glance was difficult.  The brand team wanted to bring the design into the present, increase appetite appeal, and encourage daily usage.


Working with Voicebox Creative, we identified key opportunities to address.  These included: decreasing the medicinal feel caused by the heavy use of blues; reinforcing the benefits of the brand more clearly, including the 1000mg of vitamin C; more appetite appeal from our fruit imagery; ease of product and flavor differentiation at shelf (as part of the flavor banners was often covered up at retail); an increased emphasis on the effervescent nature of the product; and finally more clearly communicating the “fun” aspect of the brand.


After several rounds, we fell in love with a vibrant design that was modern, fun and met all of our objectives and more.  The equity and shape of the Emergen-C brand mark and box was retained with the logo being placed on a radiant, sun-like burst that communicated heath and vitality.  The blue was changed to a vibrant orange to reinforce the high vitamin C content and enhance shelf pop.  Key benefits were brought forward into effervescent bubbles, and the realistic fruit illustrations promised a flavorful, fun experience.  Each product line (Base, including our Philanthropic products, Functional, Kidz, and the then soon to be launched Five) was now easily differentiated from the others.


Optimizing Sampling for Increased ROI

Sampling had historically played a strong role in the marketing plans of the Emergen-C brand.  It was felt that once people tried the brand they would like it.  However, the company had minimal data about the effectiveness of its sampling programs and sampled all flavors and types of products in its portfolio in amounts from 1-6 or more at a time.  If the company was going to continue to invest in millions of samples per year, it needed to know what worked best.


We designed and executed a multi-prong sampling study controlling for markets, flavors, and number of samples.  The qualitative and quantitative results showed the optimal quantity and that we should always include one specific flavor.


All of the brand’s sampling efforts were revamped to ensure that this number of packets was always given out along with the anchor flavor.  A limited number of additional flavors sampled would then be rotated in based upon the specific objectives the team was trying to achieve.  Sampling of other flavors and products was eliminated.  Significant postage savings were also realized which allowed for more people to be sampled.

Instituting Formal Business Planning

The Company had been so busy with basic issues as it transitioned to professional management that it had not undertaken the process of formal business analysis and planning.  It lacked a clear vision across the organization of what it wanted to achieve and how it was going to get there.  We were tasked with writing the first formal business plans for the Board.


Lead the organization on the development of the business plan, showing them how a quality plan was written and based upon backwards-looking analytics and quantifiable, forward-looking goals.  It would also require ensuring that our agency partners were on board.  Finally, we would be tasked with explaining the plans to the Board.


As the organization lacked understanding of how to do this, we started by having to train the Sales and Marketing teams on the expectations of what CPG brands typically do.  We showed them how and what to analyze and how to use agency partners to collect and analyze appropriate data.  We then wrote the plans that meshed with the CEO’s financial objectives with the ensuring Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics.  This was then disseminated to all of the other departments, whom we worked with, to help them craft the cohesive plan the company needed to move forward.  It ensured our Board was in agreement with our plans and also had the added benefit of providing the backbone of the documentation for our investment bankers when we went to sell the company.