This is the incredible true story of how an energy drink remade a failed boxer, and by actively involving young sports-mad fans, not only helped him get back in the ring, but also brought about an enormous rise in fortune for the brand.
Starting with a branded launch film, and following it with specifically targeted branded online videos that were shot according to audience suggestions or challenges, the integrated campaign is one of the most successful examples of how a relevant use of celebrity can not only revive a brand, but also remake an athlete.
With an impeccable career of 31 wins and the title of world’s youngest Olympic boxing medalist, UK boxing legend Amir Khan faced a setback after being knocked out by Canelo Alvarez. The news claimed his career was over, and no brand was willing to touch him.
At a time when nobody backed a down-and-out Khan, Sting decided to remake the boxer's reputation and re-energize him back into the ring, aligning the move carefully with the brand's intention to revive itself from it's own stagnancy. Tapping into Khan's Pakistani heritage, Sting invited him to Pakistan and offered an entire city as a gym and its people as coaches. The ancient Mughal city of Lahore, and its residents, stepped up.
Following a short teaser, an online film was launched that marked the beginning of Khan's #StingChallenge. The film showed the boxer training in the old city of Lahore using unconventional means: parkour on the rooftops of this old Mughal city, training with local wrestlers, jumping over rickshaws, shadowboxing with clotheslines. The film ended with a call to action: "Dare to challenge Amir Khan". Following the video every week a challenge post would be created which called out the digital audience to help train Khan by sending him challenges. The audience came up with thousands of incredibly creative challenges using local techniques (such as boxing to the tune of a traditional drum beat) and Khan met them head-on. Through social listening, we identified a few of the most popular suggestions and showcased Amir training according to those suggestions.
The campaign was one of the most successful ones that PepsiCo has ever run. It not only firmly re-established Sting in the market as an energy drink with a boost in energy credentials by 8 massive points, brand love credentials were also boosted by 8 points. The online film alone gained a cumulative of 16 million views online and was the fastest to reach 10 million in PepsiCo's history. Total impressions of the campaign crossed the 100 million mark. In a complete knockout of the competition, sales increased by an incredible 30 PERCENT during and following the campaign, making Sting the largest energy drink in the country.
The brand's efforts brought Amir Khan back into the boxing ring, who on April 21,2018 at Liverpool, knocked out his opponent in a comeback match in under 40 seconds.
Not only had we re-energized a brand, we had also remade a boxer.