As better-tasting, healthier competitors entered the market, PowerBar’s sales plummeted. Dramatically. The company that invented the category needed to reinvent itself. Fortunately, they had a new product to change the narrative.
The Clean Whey Bar represented a new beginning for the company, and they wanted breakthrough work to cut through the noise in a now very crowded marketplace. We wanted to align ourselves with someone who also needed a clean start, like PowerBar.
To answer this challenge, we used a successful and handsome Olympic athlete who had recently fallen from grace. One who, like PowerBar, also needed to start over—Ryan Lochte. PowerBar knew offering the controversial gold medalist with bad judgment a second chance wouldn’t make everyone happy, but it would get their attention. Lochte invited America to make a Clean Start Pledge and to get a free Clean Whey bar in the process, giving people an ideal venue to make a commitment to doing something positive. Fans could also create custom videos for their friends in which Lochte calls the recipient by name and encourages the lucky guy or gal to make a clean start with the Clean Whey bar.
Knowing everyone needs a second chance, PowerBar extended the campaign by offering 17 spots in the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon to runners who were overcoming setbacks or health-related difficulties that had previously sidelined them or caused them to be on the “did not finish” list. We invited people to share their stories for another shot at a clean start.
The Clean Start Pledges and free-bar requests poured in faster than Lochte swimming a 200-meter freestyle. More than 122,000 people submitted Clean Start Pledges and nearly 4,000 fans have created customized videos. Most importantly, sales of the Clean Whey bars have tripled. Providing further proof that the calculated-yet-risky partnership had paid off, the effort racked up 888 million total impressions earned over 175 media publications, on par with most ads that ran in the Super Bowl. Touchdown, PowerBar.