By our very nature, humans crave reciprocation. It’s seen in the number of mentions celebrities receive from adoring fans each time they tweet, to the millions that pack football stadiums worldwide. These interactions matter to us. However, we only return to them if the recipient can offer us something we value. That’s why personality in marketing is so crucial to success – it humanises a brand
One such success story is Innocent. The well-known smoothie and juice brand uses an irreverent personality and humour to promote and sell its wares. And, to its credit, this appears to be a continuation of the brand’s founding ethos.
In 1998, three friends (and Cambridge graduates) fancied doing something different from their current roles in consulting and advertising. After spending six months working on recipes, the trio took £500 worth of fruit to a 1999 London music festival and set up a free smoothie stall. They agreed on one simple method for determining success, as co-founder Richard Reed explained in 2004:
We originally wrote this massive long questionnaire. But then we thought, if you’re sat at this festival and it’s sunny, the last thing you want to do is fill out a survey. So we decided to keep it simple and ask literally ‘should we stop working and make these things?’ We had a bin that said yes and a bin that said no and at the end of the weekend the yes bin was full of empty bottles. We all went in to work the next day and quit.
Certainly a brave decision, but as we know, one that definitely paid off. Today, Innocent’s turnover exceeds £200 million with 90% of the company now owned by Coca-Cola. (I suspect a lot of people might not know that). Over time it’s product range has expanded, from just smoothies and juice, to include kids, bubbles and coconut water.
Across all its marketing channels Innocent maintains a consistent and engaging presence, effectively combining creativity and engaging copy. Their TV ads are bold and entertaining and the website has a great blog offering everything from recipes to random thoughts of the day. I follow them on Twitter too, simply because it’s enjoyable to do so. Something I certainly don’t do for any other FMCG brands I buy.
Its humour can be bonkers:
A comprehensive list of Jay-Z’s 99 problems https://t.co/5G1Yq0Vhkf
— innocent drinks (@innocent) September 11, 2015
Londoners everywhere are being forced above ground, standing on stationary staircases hoping they’ll move, scanning Oyster cards on bollards
— innocent drinks (@innocent) August 6, 2015
Or a shameful plug (with tongue firmly in cheek):
This is a tweet to remind you that smoothies exist and they are excellent. — innocent drinks (@innocent) September 10, 2015
But back to that now historic day at the London festival. The one thing missing from Richard Reed’s anecdote is the fact that while the yes bin was full, the no bin contained only three bottles. So we have a history of brilliant humour and three founders…