As a brand grows, from a quirky niche player into (it hopes) a national supplier, it needs to shift from telling consumers what it makes and start telling them why—and thus why they should purchase those products. For Bai Brands, the information that it makes flavored water has really started to spread, such that its managers now plan to shift gears to give consumers a better sense of who it is.

The spreading information about what it makes came about largely due to a popular advertising campaign in which Christopher Walken recited lines from “Bye, Bye, Bye” to Justin Timberlake. In addition to appearing in the commercials, Timberlake is an investor in the brand, suggesting its substantial appeal. Immediately after the first airing of the clever, funny commercial during the Super Bowl, a hashtag #baibaibai started trending. Subsequent market research confirmed that brand awareness had grown substantially, indicating the strong success of the campaign.

But an association with the quirky characters played by Walken and Timberlake might not be enough for the brand to encourage consumers to purchase it. Therefore, Bai Brands has adopted a parallel marketing approach to highlight the more serious elements of its brand identity—in particular, how its stevia-sweetened, low calorie, anti-oxidant, flavored water and can help consumers avoid sugar and maintain healthier diets.

Such benefits resonate with a campaign Bai Brands has undertaken, in collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival, to produce “mini-documentaries” about other people and brands that combine seemingly contradictory elements successfully. In “The Unbelievers” for example, Burnell Colton describes how and why he decided to pour his entire life savings to open a grocery store in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. None of the national chains that left the area after Hurricane Katrina returned, so without any experience, and driven solely by his recognition that the community needed such retail options, he created an outpost for people to gather, purchase necessary items, and even get a haircut.

Bai Brands’ sponsorship of this and other short documentaries appears in the opening and closing credits, with a simple logo. But on YouTube (and its own dedicated website), it plays the videos alongside information about how its products also do the “impossible,” by delivering a great tasting beverage that is also healthy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What brand associations does Bai Brands have, and what ones is it trying to build?
  2. What tactics have enabled Bai Brands to build brand awareness?

SourceMartha C. White, “A Quirky Flavored-Water Brand Tries to Grow Up,” The New York Times, August 13, 2017