ZOA goes for gold with first major ad campaign

As Team USA took the global stage during last week’s opening ceremonies, the athletes were introduced by none other than the one of world’s biggest stars, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Moments later during the NBC broadcast, Johnson starred on screen again, this time introducing Americans to ZOA, a new, low-calorie energy drink made using all-natural ingredients that he and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs released across the U.S. this year in partnership with Molson Coors.

The 30-second spot — the brand’s first — will run on NBC broadcasts throughout the games during prime time, as well as on YouTube.

In it, Johnson celebrates the “multi-everything people out there,” like athletes in training, stressed-out students and busy moms.

Johnson himself is a multi-hyphenate: a movie star, entrepreneur, philanthropist, father and social-media powerhouse, boasting 254 million Instagram followers. That makes him the perfect face for a brand like ZOA, which seeks to separate itself from its competitors in the $16 billion energy drink category, says Marlon Hernandez, senior director of non-alcoholic products for Molson Coors.

“Retailers have been coming on board very quickly because of this incredible platform and credibility the product and its founders have. It’s not a celebrity endorsement – it’s a brand that the founders are really committed to growing in a credible way,” he says. “(Johnson) is a multi-tasker, and that’s why they created this brand for a multi-tasking world.”

ZOA, which brands itself as the energy drink for “healthy warriors,” hit shelves in March, and has already proven itself to be a tough competitor. In just a few short months, it has cracked the top 20 energy drink brands as measured by IRI, with just 7% market penetration. To date, nearly 24,000 retailers stock it, more than doubling its first-quarter distribution.

“In just four months, ZOA has created a big impact in the energy drink category,” Hernandez says. “The brand is moving incredibly fast versus brands that have been in the market for a much longer time.”

ZOA, for instance, is outselling established brands in some national and regional chains since its launch, Hernandez says. Molson Coors plans to soon place ZOA in other major national retailers, including Walmart and Kroger.

Available in five flavors and sold in single-serve 16-ounce cans, ZOA is positioned as an above-premium, better-for-you energy drink that contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, camu camu and acerola cherry. It contains vitamins C and B, added electrolytes and amino acids, and it is made with caffeine derived from green tea and unroasted coffee beans.

ZOA is made without preservatives, artificial ingredients or additives.

Molson Coors’ involvement with ZOA, which includes a small stake in the company, represents its embrace of categories beyond beer. That includes a partnership with La Colombe Coffee Roasters, as well as a long-standing relationship with non-alc beverage pioneer LA Libations.

“Our non-alc portfolio is growing, and retailers and consumers are seeing why we’re putting an additional focus beyond beer,” Hernandez says. “The opportunity is enormous, and ZOA’s is showing us what’s possible.”