"We wanted lyrics that are inspirational to our core fans, and something that can deliver a positive message and uplift people as they engage in the brand," he says.
J. Cole's 'Crooked Smile' Lyrics: A Song on Inner Beauty
Last year's inaugural Verse campaign, a spin on the beverage's Obey Your Thirst slogan that debuted in 1994, featured Drake, Nas, Rakim and The Notorious B.I.G. Oliver said feedback from the launch informed this year's artist selection.
"The big takeaway for us coming out of last year was how excited fans were about us staying true to the genre and paying homage to the heritage of hip hop. Choosing classic artists as well as current artists led to our credibility," Oliver notes, adding of this year's inclusion of 2Pac: "It's important for us to have an artist like that because of what he's represented to music and the art form. Having a heavyweight like him is important to the program."
This year's campaign also features a new tech enhancement. Fans can use their mobile phones to access the Sprite brand website from June 20 through Aug. 15, snap a photo of each can and unlock a Sprite product offer, earn a music reward, and be entered for a chance to win autographed music memorabilia and a VIP concert experience.
Obey Your Verse returns as sister beverage brand Coke is in the midst of its own lyrics-centric Share a Coke and a Song campaign. "We work closely with the Coca Cola brand team," he says. "We each have a unique role to individually capture the lyrics that makes the most sense for our brand. Our fans believe the music we are celebrating represents who they are."
Missy Elliott Named Honoree at VH1 Hip Hop Honors: Exclusive
Sprite's relationship with hip hop culture continues to evolve from 30 years ago when it debuted an ad featuring Kurtis Blow to engagement with artists including A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Grandmaster Flash, Common and Fat Joe.
"In the ‘80s we were in the forefront and taking a subculture and pushing it into the mainstream culture. We embraced the genre early on, when no other brand from a corporate perspective was doing that," Oliver says. "Continuing it through the years is critically important to us. Honest self-expression is what hip hop is all about and the piece of it we found very meaningful to the Sprite brand as well."
The program will be supported with a marketing campaign including TV, outdoor, radio, digital, social, in-store advertising and an integration during the BET Experience @ L.A. Live, June 23-25. Outdoor ads will feature the likeness of each Obey Your Verse artist along with their respective packaging. A 30-second broadcast spot will debut in late June and include an appearance from Rakim.