How Can You Imitate This Successful VitaminWater Campaign?

What do your grandmother, Grand Theft Auto, and VitaminWater have in common? They all appear in VitaminWater’s most recent advertising campaign.

There’s a lot going on in this new campaign, including Instagram tie-ins that are seeing some significant success. Let’s break down VitaminWater’s thought process and see if you can replicate its genre-breaking ingenuity.

VitaminWater: Setting the Scene

VitaminWater competes directly with Gatorade and other water supplements for the attention of athletes everywhere. You’d expect VitaminWater’s commercials to reflect this health-conscious goal, and in the past, they have.

The newest breaks down some expectations, though. Shot in hyper-realistic, video game detail, it shows a lemon violently crushed beneath a grandmother’s walker. As the lemon dies, the scene cuts to a shot of text: “In a world full of chaos…greatness starts with a squeeze.”

From here, we see the real scene. The aforementioned grandma – with her chain glasses, lemon-print dress, and grey-blue hair – is flanked by a wrecked lemon truck. The sky behind her is Grand Theft Auto orange, and the city around her is on fire. In a terrifying finish, this grandma raises her arms and invites the viewer closer, wrapping the ad with “Come to grandma!” before it cuts to the ad’s title:

Instagram, Rhetorical Devices, and Breaking Generic Expectations

What’s going on here?

VitaminWater is reaching new Instagram audiences through a three-prong approach:

  • Genre-breaking: Where once we saw athletes, we now see a grandma with a walker. Where we expect to exercise, we now see video game aesthetics. There’s no better way to grab an audience’s attention than by shattering expectations.
  • Parody: VitaminWater capitalizes on its audience’s familiarity with franchises such as Grand Theft Auto to make its new advertisements work. It contrasts the lawlessness of that video game’s setting with the generic gentleness of a grandmother.
  • Nostalgia: The grandmother plays two roles: she’s the anti-athlete and anti-gamer, but she’s also a call back to the days when VitaminWater’s audience was younger. The company pairs the shock value of grandma in the midst of a dangerous city with the memories of grandma’s comforting – if sometimes too tight – hugs.

The Brand Tie-in

However, what in the world does any of that have to do with vitamin water as a product?

That clash – expectation versus ad – is the point. There are lemons scattered throughout the ad, and in the mobile game – which is real, by the way – VitaminWater products help grandma stay awake while she’s traveling through the city.

It’s shocking, though, that VitaminWater knew it would catch audience eyes. Tie that feeling in with its Instagram tie-ins – several cross-stitched posts with advice from “gran-gran” – and the company has managed to bind consumer nostalgia, shock, and humor to sell its product.

The Takeaway

Not all companies can break their industry genre and see financial success. It remains to be seen whether VitaminWater’s grandma will outlive her shock value. However, if you’re looking to reinvigorate your audience numbers or reach a new demographic, you can learn something here.

If you’re looking to make a move like this, consider:

  • Identify your product genre and its expectations. Then, play against them. Surprise your consumers.
  • Seek out entertainment options. A strong, genre-breaking ad doesn’t catch people’s attention just because it’s flashy. It catches people’s attention because it has a value that’s easy to share.
  • Utilize multi-platform advertising. When you create a genre-breaking ad, you need to commit to it. Share variations of your ad, such as cross-stitched posts and video games, across all your active platforms.
  • Look for new engagement mediums. VitaminWater created a short-form video game to sell its product. Can you?

The internet can do more than host text content. Break out of your genre and invite a grandma of your own to your next ad campaign.


Is your company in need of help? MV3 Marketing Agency has numerous Marketing experts ready to assist you. Contact MV3 Marketing to jump-start your business.

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