How Challenger Brands Breakthrough

By Tom Sullivan


How Challenger Brands Breakthrough

Challenger Brands Are Bold

Challenger brands embrace a committed, unapologetic way of behaving. The biggest mistake far too many brands make? They try to appeal to everyone. Do that, and you end up appealing to no one. Simply put…there’s nothing more important than choosing a clear POV. Don’t over-stylize the creative executions or get too cute. Go old-school simple. Many of our challenger brand clients spend less than much larger competitors, but every dollar they spend is purposeful and impactful. Smart, all in, brave as hell advertising is where it’s at. Be bold. Craft an unapologetic campaign that blows away every other brand in your category.

What Else Is Bold? Calling It like You See It.

And the way we see it, there is no such thing as digital marketing. There is just marketing in an increasingly digital world. Yeah, we recognize the need for digitally-driven and socially-charged marketing…because that’s where consumers increasingly are. We know the importance of data, insights, and technology to focus in on our audience and create a comprehensive marketing ecosystem. We get it. But none of that is nearly as important as just knowing who you are as a challenger brand and beating your chest about it.

That’s exactly why Facebook chose Vitro to launch their new “Order Food” service, the first ever true B2C offering in Facebook history, tapping the growth opportunities in instant ordering and timely delivery. And whilst our content group is cranking out an incredible amount of work (delivering eleven unique online videos and eighty-nine unique banners, carousels, vignettes, and outdoor executions in just two months), without bold impactful branding and impossible-to-ignore communications, innovations like delivery, OLO platforms, and loyalty apps quickly become table stakes and struggle to make the business impact you need.

Another way to be bold? Sabotage the competition! Don’t be afraid to mix it up in the sand box and literally go head to head with the brands you want to steal share from. That’s the strategy and creative we developed for Newcastle Brown Ale. We went straight at the competition. That’s bold.

Image of Newcastle's billboard directly next to Carlsberg


Image of Newcastle's truck advertisement directly next to Stella Artois

Image of Newcastle's billboard directly next to a Stella Artois advertisement

Newcastle Brown Ale’s head to head strategy.

The Importance of a Big Idea

Optimizing the customer experience via a robust customer-journey-map is key; using actual customer behavior to drive decisions on the right channels, vehicles, messages, and moments. You’ve got to perfectly coordinate the dance between digital and traditional channels to move consumers seamlessly through that journey. That said, in our humble opinion, modern-day marketing does not mean making a choice between brand building, lead generating, and conversion. Today’s branding is about making a statement that people give a shit about, and then creating a relevant destination for lead generation which drives conversion.

Yes, digital and social are super important, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all. Digital is a means to an end, not an end in itself. It’s a distraction from the real business of business: be different. Be relevant. Be good. Then ask how digital can get you there. We’re constantly getting briefed by some of the world’s most sophisticated digital brands. And guess what? Behind closed doors, they admit what we’ve all known; digital is more interruptive than disruptive. To get on the good side of that dynamic, brands need action and buzz, wrapped around a core POV that acts as a filter for much of what a brand does. It’s all in an effort for challenger brands to steal share from the big fish.

But the foundation of it all, the beating heart of a business’ transformation, needs to be a bold, cohesive creative idea that breaks through.

A big idea that brings to life a purpose! Brands need to be modern, progressive, and digital-friendly. They need to challenge convention and pick a point of view. We think that brands who pick a point of view, fully aware that the POV may be challenged both inside and outside their walls, are brands that know who they are. Brands that focus, that don’t over complicate or over think, are brands that portray confidence in what they stand for. Consumers have more choices, more options, and more sameness within categories than ever before. Because of that, we believe consumers are desperately seeking brands that have a specific point of view.

We think that brands who pick a point of view, fully aware that the POV may be challenged both inside and outside their walls, are brands that know who they are.

So, what’s your point of view? What’s your commitment? What can you leverage to create distinction in a crowded category that’s more often than not, ripe with overspending competitors?  Answer those questions to write the next chapter in your brand’s history. Embrace a unique commitment. No distractions. No excuses.



Tom Sullivan
Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan

Chief Executive Officer