Advertising design students help re-brand Jolt Cola
Advertising design students help re-brand Jolt ColaApril 12, 2006Jaime Winne Alvarezjlwinne@syr.edu
Students in the advertising design program in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) spent this semester helping Rochester marketer Wet Planet Beverages stage a comeback for its national brand Jolt Cola. With the help of what it calls its “Syracuse University creative SWAT team,” students in Assistant Professor Stephen Montgomery’s senior-level branding course worked with Wet Planet to help Jolt achieve a one-in-a-million second chance to secure long-term success.
C.J. Rapp, CEO and founder of Wet Planet and creator of Jolt, was a college student and hockey player in the late 1970s when he and friends experimented with different additives to put more “pizzazz” in their cola. The result was Jolt, which claimed to have “twice the caffeine” of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. It became an overnight success with the youth market, keeping active kids alert and energized. But like the effects of caffeine, the heady days of Jolt’s popularity didn’t last forever. Now, in 2006, the Jolt brand wants lightning to strike twice.
Montgomery’s students worked in eight teams, in conjunction with New Jersey advertising agency In-House Agency, Inc., a full-service creative marketing firm that worked with Wet Planet on this educational project. They worked for the entire semester on the re-branding assignment, spending the last six weeks adapting their ideas into graphic and video form for the new Jolt Web site. Rapp visited Syracuse on April 11 for a luncheon with the class and presented three awards to the class: best campaign to Josh Smutco and Keith Esernio for “Rise Up;” best video to Ryan Kase, Miriam Langsam and Laura Migdon for “Fun Pops;” and best art direction to Erin Lustig and Noah Phillips for “Jolt Up.” Each team received a $200 cash prize.
A large part of the Jolt re-launch included a revolutionary and never-before-seen re-sealable aluminum bottle, referred to as the “Jolt Battery Bottle,” whose unique high-voltage battery design sets it apart from its competition.
The introduction between Montgomery’s class, In-House and Wet Planet came about through Montgomery’s friendship with Doug MacGibbon, In-House president. The two worked together at New York’s Young and Rubicam ad agency in 1977.
“Steve showed me some of the recent creative work his students were doing and I was impressed,” says MacGibbon. “So impressed, that I suggested bringing a nationally sold brand, from a marketer I knew targets the college market, into the classroom. Steve gave me an unequivocal ‘let’s do it.'”
Montgomery has pioneered programs of this kind in his classroom before, but never with a national brand. “I’ve always been interested in taking the classroom out of the world of ‘utopia’–college assignments with no practical limits–and bringing students into the real world of advertising, a world where many clients make logos bigger and ideas smaller.”
Best art direction award winner Phillips says the best part of the experience has been developing work that is “not just fresh and creative, but also executable in a real world setting.” Classmate Caitlyn McCarthy said the re-branding project for Jolt had certain limitations, including a budget, which students were not used to dealing with in a classroom setting.
According to Toni Toland, coordinator of VPA’s advertising design program, “This opportunity opens the door to a whole new concept in the education of our students: not only are they dealing with a contemporary branding opportunity, they’re being challenged to think about advertising in new and innovative ways, all within the context of realistic parameters. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.”