Oct 1, 1997

Ever heard that catchy slogan for Sprite?

"Image is nothing.
Thirst is everything.
Obey your thirst."

In the summer of 1996, Coca-Cola, who manufactures Sprite products, was looking to change the image of its sparkling soda. Sales were down. The old campaign of "I like the Sprite in you!" was growing long in the tooth, and worse, wasn't catching on with the growing "Generation X" crowd. "We were looking for something hip, something fresh, something that would appeal to the younger generation," stated Coke spokesman Bob Bertini.

So Sprite contacted Lowe & Partners/SMS, a New York based advertising agency known for its ability to appeal to the younger masses (Lowe also handles the entire Reebok campaign). After just one week, a surprisingly short turn-around for a campaign of this proportion, a series of TV and radio advertisements based on the "obey your thirst" motto was proposed, and accepted with enthusiasm by the marketing team at Coca-Cola.

As far as advertising goes, it was a smash success. Sales have increased roughly 9% since the introduction, especially in the younger age groups. When rating the advertisements, ninety-three percent of consumers ages 18-24 said they were effective. Among all consumers who knew the ads, 83% said the same.

The campaign was the brain child of advertising executive Donald Rifkin, a long-time employee of Lowe & Partners. His inspiration for the slogan came from an old political speech he had run across in his free time. "I just love looking through artifacts of political history. I chanced across this one particular speech, and the speaker made an aside about thirst that absolutely just stuck in my head. I felt that I could use it somewhere, so I jotted it down. A month later, when Sprite came calling, the match almost seemed too easy."

In 1971, former President Ronald Reagan, then the Governor of California, was addressing a gathering of the Boy Scouts of America on a particularly scorching Southern California day. As he neared conclusion, Reagan paused briefly to take a sip of water. Noticeably refreshed, upon returning to the microphone, he told the audience, "Now, I certainly have spoken on a number of different topics today. However, if you are to remember one thing, and only one thing, it should be this: Speeches are nothing. Thirst is everything. Always remember to obey your thirst."