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    Campaign Trail: C4 Energy taps into Kevin Hart’s versatility

    Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.

    When it came time for Nutrabolt to extend its energy drink line with a cognitive performance-focused product called C4 Smart Energy, the company sought to fully align its value proposition, brand ambassador and creative approach. The resulting “Ignite Your Fire” platform revolves around Kevin Hart, the comedian, actor, entrepreneur and producer whose ability to multitask is central to the campaign.

    “Ignite Your Fire” launched last month with a 60-second hero spot starring Hart that whip-pans and quick-cuts through various scenarios — a wardrobe fitting, a recording session, the filming of an action sequence, a photo shoot, the preparation of a meal — before ending with the star performing a stand-up comedy set.

    “We have the best multitasker, the hardest working man in the industry in the world. So who better to really help drive the vehicle of Smart Energy?” said Matt Salvatore, head of social media for Nutrabolt’s portfolio of brands that includes C4 Energy, Cellucor and Xtend. “We tapped into Kevin’s energy — everything you can cram into 24 hours and beyond, because he just is the embodiment of that smart hustle mentality.”

    The campaign grew organically out of Hart’s relationship with the brand. The global star liked the brand for a handful of years, and his training partner Ron “Boss” Everline has been a key ambassador for C4. Hart took an equity stake in Nutrabolt in 2021, and the development of C4 Smart Energy — an outgrowth of the pre-workout C4 Energy drink — was the right fit for a brand ambassadorship.

    When Hart was finally available to film a spot, his packed schedule allowed him just two hours to work on set — a fraction of the time usually required for a commercial shoot. But instead of seeing the time limit as a constraint, the brand and its agency Times10 embraced the fast pace to better portray the C4 Smart Energy value proposition.

    “What’s wild about this commercial is it’s very real. We had a very short period of time to shoot it, so I needed that movement of Kevin, and I needed Kevin to nail stuff — the product had to work,” said Ben Ricciardi, CEO and founder of Times10. “It was early, and the second he jumped in, off camera, he grabbed a C4 and really dove right in.”

    The spot’s goal was to show Hart in his various elements and with his trademark sense of humor, without looking like a standard commercial. To make better use of the time with the star, Times10 used two crews: While one was lighting and setting up a vignette, the other crew was shooting.

    “While I was directing, I had to have Kevin really jump from mindset to mindset. Whether it was when he was doing his stand-up piece or whichever part of the vignette that we were shooting, I really had to have him multitask and change what he was thinking about and really get into each character — where he was and what he would be doing in his daily life,” Ricciardi explained.

    Not only did the shoot involve two crews, but it required thinking about the various channels and platforms in which the campaign would run. Along with a traditional video, Times10 had to capture footage for TikTok and Instagram Reels, where the frame is 9×16 and not 16×9. With that in mind, the company rigged two cameras that could shoot simultaneously, and remained mindful of the frame, which would eventually include key phrases like “on the move” and “always ready” in 3D block print behind the star.

    “I definitely push to drive social engagement, to really understand how the social side of even a spot like this will work, and that’s been a lot of fun to really understand,” Ricciardi said.

    KevinVision

    The hero spot is only the first piece in the multifaceted campaign, which includes a media partnership with Hart’s LOL! Network that will deploy across over-the-top outlets, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and product integration in Hart’s sports talk show, “Cold As Balls.” The brand also plans to launch a TikTok challenge to encourage consumers to share their side hustles for a chance to be selected by Hart to win prizes that total $50,000.

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