The power to see what you’re made of.
A marathoner starts baking bars in his kitchen and selling them out of his trunk at events. Almost single-handedly, Brian Maxwell and PowerBar invent an entirely new food category: sports nutrition. Within 15 years, one of the largest food conglomerates in the world acquires it. With the tagline and positioning of "Good Food, Good Life," Nestlé intended to bring PowerBar into the fold of its stated mission of "enhancing the quality of consumers' lives through nutrition, health, and wellness." However, given a pervasive parent-company focus on its confection offerings, PowerBar had lost its way with its core constituency: endurance athletes.
Stake claim to the most distinguishing characteristic of PowerBar and bring its core audience of endurance athletes back to the brand with a messaging strategy that recognizes PowerBar's roots, honors its most important consumers, inspires a following, and aligns with the parent company's broader efforts worldwide.
We interviewed triathletes. Hung out at the local running-shoe store. We even ran half-marathons. We crafted our observations into a consolidated portrait. Then, we focused our efforts on the perceptual gap that became apparent when we compared the attitudes of the brand’s historic user group and those of the competitive marketplace. What emerged was a key insight that inspired the creative: “We only find our strength as we defy our boundaries. And we only overcome as we declare our limits irrelevant.”
We created hundreds of concepts. We then internally reviewed a select batch with our core audience. The final five ideas were presented to Nestlé. The chosen tagline—You’re Stronger than You Think—reflected PowerBar’s true believers and spoke directly to their deepest desire: to accomplish what seems impossible to everyone else. It distinguished PowerBar from the competition. And, it aligned one of Nestlé’s most vital brands within its portfolio.
Expos are a mainstay of big endurance events. Participants arrive a day early to receive bib numbers and get logistical information. Expos are a chance to connect to the wider community of athletes and discover new brands. The "You're Stronger than You Think" platform inspired us to create more than a standard booth. It was a race simulator. There were visualizations of elevation changes. PowerBar nutrition and hydration stations were highlighted on the map. Audio from the marathon starting line and finish lines played as athletes walked through the experience. There was even a foam finger "Resistance Zone" for kids to simulate the last miles of the run. The booth content changed for different classes of endurance racing, including cycling, triathlon, and marathon. It featured prominently at Interbike, the Boston and New York marathons as well as Ironman Kona. The experience was engaging, memorable, and shared widely in social media.
Our process of aligning the brand and the parent company based on the consumer psyche paid off. When tested through Ipso ASI, our positioning tested in the top 10 percent for impact and retention when compared to hundreds of Nestlé brands that had gone through a similar process, globally.