“The challengers” series of blog posts
The Challengers: Hugh Thomas, Co-CEO, Ugly Drinks
“In a time of fake news and alternative facts in both politics, popular culture and food and drink marketing, the Ugly Truth stands for transparency and honesty. We are taking on a world of sugary and sweetened carbonated soft drinks. Unlike the others in our category, Ugly Drinks contains no sugar, no sweetener, no calories and nothing artificial – but we’re still deliciously refreshing, of course!
“But being a start-up, we do face challenges. We have small budgets, for example, and we need to make them last. We can’t throw money at the big guys and hope to get noticed. So we make a noise where we can. Our brand name helps – it’s unforgettable. And our branding really stands out on a shelf.
“We also listen. We believe in the power of data and science in marketing, and we want to make sure we are listening and learning every day. That’s the only way we’ll really get to know our customers, and consumers at large, and know how to get them engaged with our purpose. We want everyone to know about the Ugly Truth.
“Luckily, there’s plenty of inspiration out there. In our category, Innocent is the name, and I absolutely loved their Big Knit campaign. It started small and has grown with time. But when it comes to purpose, I have to talk about Hiut Denim. What a story they have to tell, and it’s real and it’s authentic and it has purpose. Starting with why is vital, and these guys lead the way. Purpose is everything. It must inform all of your marketing, your hiring, even your culture.
“When it comes to “challenger” brands, I believe you must show personality and authenticity, and you must have a great story to tell. That’s the magic combination, and the positivity that millennial consumers are looking for today.
“I’ve worked in the big brands, and I’d much rather be in a challenger brand. That’s why we founded Ugly; we wanted to take on the industry because we saw things could be so much better. I’m motivated to use brains to defeat brawn. Plus, we can react more quickly: we are speed boats, while the big boys are oil tankers! We can be so much more agile, react more quickly, and get to talk to consumers one-on-one.
“As for my fellow challengers, let me remind you that having no budget is a creative constraint that can work for you, not against you! Use it to inspire better, greater, more memorable, more challenging work. It’s an exciting opportunity to flex your creative muscle. Besides, it’s more fun being David than Goliath.”