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Case Study

Painting the town yellow with C4

C4 has taken the US by storm in recent years. Launched by parent company Nutrabolt, the wellness-driven energy drink has become a workout staple. With US dominance complete, C4 turned their attention to a new market: UK students. 

The challenge: launch a US energy drink on UK campuses

The UK’s specialist beverage scene is exploding. As more and more US imports land on UK shelves, it’s become a fiercely competitive space – one that only the best and brightest can break into.

C4 was already a strong contender. As the brainchild of Cellucor, and owned by Nutrabolt, the energy drink brand already stood out – not just because of their bright yellow packaging. Very few energy drinks have their roots in fitness and sports nutrition, built with exercise in mind. The C4 product line started off as a workout powder, and the energy drink – which is sugar free and infused with workout supplement BetaPower – follows the same fitness-first format. 

C4 was a fairly new brand in the UK, with a bold mission to become the go-to energy drink brand amongst young people. All that remained was to find a swift route in. 

At native, we know that students are the perfect demographic to make a brand go viral. Being at university, they’re highly receptive to new ideas and experiences – and that includes brands. Lucky for C4, this generation of students are also the most active  – 87% exercise three or more times per week. 

Perfect contenders for a sports-nutrition grounded energy drink? We think so.

The solution: paint the town yellow

If there’s one place to launch a brand, it’s a university campus. Packed with students moving from seminars to society meetups, from the library to the gym, it’s a hive of activity. Our research shows that students spend an average of 16.3 hours on campus per week, rising to 25.2 for first years. That’s a lot of time for C4 to make a splash with students – and for students to take their first sip of C4.

To bring the campaign to life, crowd by native – our on-the-ground team of experiential experts – identified several strategic touchpoints across campus. Then we hit the ground running. C4 had a presence across 35 campuses in the UK, popping up at Freshers events, in 63 accommodation blocks via product drops, and even venturing further afield to off-campus hotspots close to key suppliers. And of course, our sampling campaign extended to the heart of student fitness, with product drops at campus gyms and sports societies.

There’s no denying that in-person sampling is an effective way to launch a brand with students. In fact, 80% of students spend with a brand they discovered at a freshers event. But native wanted to bring C4 to students wherever they are – on-campus and online. To bring that added digital pizazz to this campaign, we underpinned our strategic sampling with a competition that students couldn’t refuse: by tagging C4 on social, they were in with the chance of winning a C4 bundle.

The result: C4 has landed!

C4 had a mission to spread their brand – and their energy drink – far and wide amongst the UK’s youth. By the end of this campaign, we’d done just that. crowd by native delivered C4 to 35 university campuses and 63 student accommodation blocks, reaching students where and when they needed an energy boost. We placed 150,000 samples directly in students’ hands – and even after the free tasters ended, they kept coming back for more. Post-sampling, sales of C4 soared across the UK, particularly in London, where there is a higher concentration of stockists. Whatever their fitness goals, UK students are now powered by C4.

Want to get in on the magic? We’re in the business of launching brands to students – online and on-campus. To see what we can do for you, contact native today.