Nix & Kix has accused Lucozade of copying its marketing ideas in the latest David versus Goliath face-off in the fmcg sector.
The natural soft drinks brand – whose USP is that every SKU contains a “hint of cayenne” – has marketed itself as “the drink with the zing” and used the slogan ‘Bring the zing’ since its launch in 2019.
However, it this week pointed out that Lucozade Energy’s newly launched £3.8m ‘Next big zing’ campaign – designed to drive trial and awareness of its newly reformulated Original and Orange variants – risked undermining “the four years we have spent building the association of zing with being natural and healthy”.
In retaliation, the Nix & Kix team staged a ‘real versus fake’ protest at Farringdon train station in London on Monday (11 September), asking passers-by to judge samples of its Blood Orange Turmeric drink against Lucozade Orange. According to Nix & Kix, its own drink proved more popular among commuters.
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“As a smaller challenger brand, it is detrimental to our business when larger corporate brands with huge budgets copy our marketing ideas and brand messaging,” said Nix & Kix.
“We have no choice but to stand up and campaign for cleaner, natural drinks with none of the fake stuff.”
This instance was not unique; big brands copied startups “all the time”, Nix & Kix brand marketing manager Charlie Rose Mills told The Grocer.
“Challenger brands release something and it gets good traction, and then suddenly the corporate takes it over and, next thing, they’re congratulated and win awards for that piece of activity,” she said.
“We’re obviously a small startup challenger brand that doesn’t have huge amounts of budget.
“So the minute they go to market with messaging like ours, they’re going to overtake us and become the brand that’s known as having ‘zing’.”
Nix & Kix’s value sales came to £836.6k in the year to 10 September 2022 – amounting to around one four-hundredth of the £335.4m Lucozade Energy cashed in over the same period [NIQ].
However, when approached by The Grocer for comment, Lucozade marketing director Elise Seibold denied the brand had copied Nix & Kix.
“‘Zing’ is used by dozens of brands across categories in marketing campaigns and product descriptions regularly,” she said.
“We used ‘zing’ back in 2008 and again in 2014 to talk about Lucozade and have no issue with other brands using it to describe the characteristics of their products, in fact, we welcome it.”
Indeed, the brand added a Lemon Zing variant under its Lucozade Alert range back in 2008 and in 2014 asked shoppers to share their “zing face” in a promotion for Lucozade Reduced Sugar Cloudy Lemonade for the chance to win a Beats By Dr Dre speaker.
“For us, zing encapsulates a core Lucozade quality and it’s the right way to explain the subtle flavour improvements we’ve made to a 96-year-old classic,” said Seibold.