Does Anything or Whatever Work?

Anybody who has been reading anything in the media or spent anytime at our bus stops recently would have noticed this teaser campaign by Out of the Box Pte Ltd. In a radical departure from how traditional FMCG companies market new brands, the company has decided to name their new beverage brands "Whatever" and "Anything".

This was accompanied by an extensive nation-wide teaser campaign on both mainstream media channels as well as outdoor media. Most of the ads had clever copy playing on the words "Whatever" or "Anything" accompanied by an eye-catching photograph or visual in bright colours. It certainly generated an extensive amount of buzz in the marketing circles.

Here is one of its TVCs aired on Singapore TV channels.

A sample of the bus-stop poster advertisement is seen below, with drink cans encircling the poster in the middle.


Here is the first twist. Immediately after putting up empty branded drink cans on their bus stop shelter ads, the company fell victim to extensive vandalism nationwide. Almost all the drink cans at 450 bus stop shelter ads were tampered with - cans were punctured, ring tabs were pulled out, or they were removed by desperate "rag and bone" thieves!

Because of the damage done to the cans, the company decided to remove them all for fear of breeding dengue-infested mosquitoes. Anybody living in Singapore will tell you that dengue is a very clear and present danger!

The second twist to the plot is that the act of vandalism got more publicity than the launch itself! Don't believe me? Here is another example from Channelnewsasia. I also saw extensive reports in Shin Min, Wan Bao, and even Zaobao and The Straits Times.

While the company may have lost about $50,000 from the anti-social acts, the publicity mileage and mindshare that it received probably far outweighs that investment! This brings to mind a similar episode a few years ago at Zouk Out, when a huge balloon publicising the event was cut loose/ stolen.


What's the final twist? Look at the supermarket shelves above. You can see the very obvious point-of-sales materials for both Whatever and Anything branded drinks. However, where are the cans of drinks? I hope that they don't take too long to arrive because consumers in Singapore are notoriously fickle.

Brand building and awareness generation is always key for any new product launch. On both accounts, Out of the Box has done wonderfully. However, they need to be able to deliver the goods and to meet heightened consumer expectations after generating all that hype. I haven't tasted the drinks yet so I will leave the verdict for later.

At the end of the day, it isn't just about how hip, cool or sexy your marketing is. It is also about having quality products that are remarkable in themselves. Just ask Virgin Mobile, which had a spectacular high key start in Singapore but fizzled miserably in 2002 when they couldn't offer real value to compete against entrenched incumbents Singtel, Starhub and M1.

Check out IZ Reloaded's post on this too.

Update: I heard that the "Anything" range of drinks are gassy and come in flavours like cola, apple, lemon and root beer while the "Whatever" range are non-gassy in different tea flavours like lemon tea, apple tea and peach tea. Each can costs $1.20 each and you won't know what flavour you are getting (which is the whole idea).

Labels: , , , ,