xlr8 alcoholic cola

Probably the most fun I’ve had in advertising. The brief was to beat sub zero, a clear, minimal designed alcohol drink that was the most popular RTD in every bar and club. I remember researching the hell out of the category. Going to bars seeing sub zero everywhere. I observed not only girls (mainly) drinking it, but a few were even adding midori/lime/raspberry/blue curaçao to them. This added another dimension to the brand. Customers were customising sub zero, for the taste, but also changing the look of the brands colour. I realised then and there I had to control the packaging, rather than just the advertising. Now I started out in this industry in packaging, and the one thing you don’t do is change it. Build loyalty and brand recognition. But why not change it? And why can’t the labels then become the print ads? And the outdoor? It’ll be a discoverable, collectible type of campaign. My writer Dave Shirlaw was in, and we created a lateral campaign from there. Because the product had guranna, caffeine and cola in it, it was called xlr8. Designed to give you a buzz. Pre-Red Bull days. So we depicted situations that showed someone or something experiencing an increase in heart beat, or about to have an increase in heart beat, good or bad. Fear or excitement. 24 labels were created in all. Can’t show sexual success? Then show 2 people tongue kissing as an x-ray. How do you know they’re kissing? Include piercings. (No retouching). We created 6 labels in each series. Each batch had an adult cartoon, a celebrity cartoonist, a keyhole concept, an x-ray, a ‘what’s coming around the corner’, and a typographical label. Below are some of my favourites. The first one was a personal protest against the French bombing the Pacific with nuclear bombs. I managed to get an Australian Nuclear Disarmament Party poster and put it on the wall. An French poodle is about to get his arse chewed by a pack of Dobermans. Beside the poodle is the first mock up that was presented to the client. Another favourite is the ‘To and From’ label. (My early days as a barman in the UK had me sending drinks on behalf of shy guys to attractive girls). We had to reprint this label specifically for the gay outlets in Oxford street, Sydney. But that was the audience we went after initially – the leading edge. If it wasn’t rejected by them, it had a chance of going mainstream.

Writers: Dave Shirlaw, Andy Iles, Trent Christie
Art Director: Andy Iles
Photographer: Simon Harsent (corner) Chuck Bradley (peep hole, key hole) Robin Sellick (rear window)
Illustrator: Jeremy (8 ball) Lew Kielar (cartoon, ticket)
Agency: Leo Burnett
Other contributors: designers, model makers, to be added….
Awards: Outdoor billboard of the year, Folio Photography Finalist ‘Peephole’, ‘Corner’, Folio campaign, D&AD packaging finalist: range of packaging (only 2 awarded), AWARD range of packaging, AWARD photographic campaign, AWARD art direction campaign.


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