Smak, Pound & Grain land Playboy Energy Drink assignment

June 14, 2012  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Playboy Energy Drink has awarded its media and creative assignments to Smak and Pound & Grain, respectively, following a review. The two agencies will be charged with developing the brand, which formally launched in Western Canada late last year, at the retail and on-premise level.

Established in 2003 and employing 16 people at offices in Vancouver and Toronto, Smak bills itself as an experiential media agency with expertise in experiential marketing. Vancouver-based digital agency Pound & Gain was established in 2010. The two agencies, which have previously partnered on work for clients including Future Shop and B.C. Hydro, pitched the assignment together.

Jeff Berry, partner and director of campaign integration for Smak, said the agencies’ culture played a key role in the account win. “They were selecting the people in the room that they were going to work with, as much as the agencies they were going to be developing campaigns with,” he said. “I think we had a good personality and culture fit with them and their business.

The agencies are currently conducting a “brand audit” and “discovery sessions” to gain insight from Playboy Energy Drink’s target audience in advance of a national campaign slated for late summer. The campaign will incorporate traditional media as well as “memorable experiential,” social and digital elements said the agencies in a release.

While the energy drink category appeals broadly to males 19-30, Berry said that Playboy Energy Drink will be positioned as a premium lifestyle brand. “We’re not going to land on a demographic profile,” said Berry. “It’s really going to be an aspirational, lifestyle-driven target.”

While brands including Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar are highly visible in the energy drink category, Berry said the objective is to make the Playboy product relevant, well-liked and trusted in the category. “It’s a great product with a great flavour profile and we have a really reputable, amazing, icon, trailblazing brand behind us, and that gives us a very good step into the marketplace,” he said.

The account win comes at an interesting time for the energy drink segment, which accounted for approximately 0.2% of Canada’s $3.9-billion soft drink and ice manufacturing industry in 2009 according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Energy drinks were previously regulated as natural health products under Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Regulations, which meant they did not have to put a nutrition facts table on their products.

Last fall, however, Health Canada announced that, based on consumption patterns, history of use, representation to consumers and in accordance with its “guidance document,” it intends to classify them as foods, meaning they would have to carry a nutrition facts table on every can.

Under proposed new measures, Health Canada would also require energy drink makers to limit the amount of caffeine included in an energy drink to 180 mg in a single serving; ensure that types and levels of minerals are within safe levels; and carry labels indicating the amount of caffeine in the product and a warning statement advising drinkers not to mix the product with alcohol.

Berry called the government regulations a “minor concern” for the brand that won’t cause any “major barriers or challenges,” but indicated they will affect everything from labeling to advertising claims. “It’s something that we’re going to respect, but it’s not something we’re concerned about,” he said.

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