My current BBM status reads, “Orijin Zero is simply agbo jedi jedi!”, a comparison of the new product from Guinness Nigeria to a Yoruba herbal concoction for pile. A friend on my BBM contact responded with a sneer — “On top of all the hype!”. I wondered how she came about the scornful response since I didn’t intend it, until I realized she works with a carbonated drink company, one that, as I later figured, must have been calling war-room brainstorming session in response to the launch of Orijin Zero.
I put more dots together and found that Guinness Nigeria has cleverly positioned Orijin Zero as a healthy and sugarless alternative to sugar-based carbonated (read as — Saccharine) drinks, as opposed to positioning the product merely as a non-alcoholic version of its 6% ABV senior family member — Orijin. My friend’s sneer is therefore justified — her salary is from selling sugary drinks and the rulebook of petty corporate competitiveness states that one’s competitor’s product remains shitty even in the face of obvious merit.
Its communication didn’t make claims like “Introducing Origin Zero, Enjoy Orijin Without Alcohol” or “The New Orijin Without Alcohol” “Origin for Everyone…” or something drawn from a copywriter’s chest of glibs. But it packs a punch (no alcoholic pun intended) — “Rethink Your Soft Drink”, a clever proposition intended to stir up the carbonated drink market and to stretch its turf from alcohol/bitters drinkers to health-conscious, sugar-loathing, saccharine-hating, and even alcohol-despising consumers.
I belong to the last group. My teetotaler career is in its 4th year, after it had staggered on-and-off in incidental social settings. I am close to being the patron saint of teetotalers but still struggle with passive aggressive social settings where alcohol intake is part of the social (and sometimes business) contract. (But I’ve mastered how to rock alcohol glasses without sipping and without giving myself away).
Orijin Zero might as well be targeted at people like me, who may find its non-sugar and herbal component appealing and also because the product is from a renowned brewing company. (But of course, one cannot entirely claim there isn’t some “additives”, even if harmless; anything that passes from nature through industries can hardly be free from add-ons).
Only time will tell if Guinness has a homerun with Orijin and its spinoff. The company’s history in Nigeria is marked with innovative products and brilliant spinoffs but not so much on sustaining innovation. The list of innovative but flailed or flailing market launches includes Gordon’s Spark, Guinness Extra Smooth, Harp Lime, etc.
This product is an incursion into the soft drink market. Or maybe my imagination is on overdrive.
It also looks like a deliberate attempt to make me lose any chance of being considered for a business (or job) opportunity with my friend’s soft drink company, because of a misconstrued BBM status. That leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. ;)