Tenzing plans to change the energy drink sector for good

Tenzing: ice sculpture of Sir David Attenborough
Tenzing: ice sculpture of Sir David Attenborough

Plant-based energy drink Tenzing has turned its focus to tackling the climate crisis.

If you'd been walking along the South Bank of the Thames earlier this month you may have noticed an ice sculpture that at one point resembled Sir David Attenborough but steadily turned to slush. The artwork, commissioned by plant-based energy drink Tenzing, was designed to communicate the dangers of the climate crisis.

The idea for the project came to the brand's founder, Huib van Bockel, while out on a run at the beginning of what became a challenging year. 

He told Campaign: "I ran past this sign, directly next to the Thames. It said thank you to all our essential workers. At the time I was struggling a bit, and it hit me hard because I felt like, am I really essential, I'm not an essential worker.

"But then I looked and thought, well we have to become essential for the next crisis, the environment."

Since the soft drink launched in 2015, van Bockel has aimed to disrupt a traditionally unhealthy category with Tenzing's low-sugar credentials. As part of its new sustainability campaign, which was launched with the South Bank activity, the product is now environmentally friendly, offsetting more carbon than its production emits.

The bust of Attenborough, measuring just under five cubic metres, was created to demonstrate the volume of Arctic sea-ice melt caused by each UK resident every fortnight. Tenzing has provided consumers with tools to help promote positive change, including a personalised carbon footprint calculator.

When the coronavirus outbreak first emerged, van Bockel kept busy volunteering in supermarkets alongside his staff in an act of solidarity with frontline workers who are keeping shelves stocked and customers safe.

After Tenzing lost some of its biggest sources of orders, such as universities, due to the lockdowns, there was no surprise that annual growth for the brand slowed to 40%, compared with 300% in previous years. It adapted its marketing, pulling resources away from sampling and investing in TV advertising.

Tenzing was chosen as the launch partner of the Channel 4 Greenhouse Fund, a C4 initiative to support small and medium-sized UK businesses that have never aired on TV before. Its ads were shown both on Channel 4-owned and partner channels for 10 weeks from 19 June 2020. It was also aired via BVOD on the All 4 platform. The TV campaign was supported with a digital campaign on YouTube, generating 38.6m impressions.

Van Bockel said: "I realised a lot of people were watching TV now, and all the advertisers had pulled back all the money, most people do that in a crisis. For us, it was the perfect moment to go talk to TV channels with a budget that normally would not have been enough to go on TV.

"In relation to the campaign that ran on C4, our national awareness went from 8% to 25%. So just a massive jump for us that may have not been achieved without the lockdowns."

When it comes to creative direction, van Bockel explained that he preferred to keep the majority of creative in house and work with a design agency on the execution in order to allow freedom from "any agencies telling you what to do".

Tenzing's upcoming campaign in April will be focused on digital media. The brand will continue to increase awareness of the climate emergency and "lay out key tools that help individuals make positive change". The overarching theme of the work will continue to focus on "The Power of Nature".

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