Get Your Red Pop!

The Flavor Master takes the world by storm.

Two years ago, Faygo Beverages Inc. in Detroit drew 3,000 visitors a month to its website — which wasn’t bad, given the site lacked engaging content. Enter the Flavor Master, and dozens of other online campaigns, that recently topped 188,000 visitors over a three-month period.

Given the jump in traffic, one might surmise the longtime Detroit soft drink manufacturer had hired a group of digitally smart, young hotshots fresh off a college campus to revamp its site. But the credit goes to a trio of advertising veterans in Birmingham who are decidedly “new school.”

“The only thing harder than getting new business is sustaining business,” says Scott Thornton, managing partner — along with Mike Vogel and Bill Morden — at TMV Group. “Instead of creating an ad campaign in a vacuum, we get the client’s entire company to buy in and own it. If everyone’s on the same page, good things happen.”

To draw more traffic to Faygo’s site, TMV introduced various contests; set up an online store called Pop Shop that offers soda, apparel, a recipe book, and other items; and added QR codes on select soda cans and bottles that have now been scanned more than 350,000 times. A video tour of the bottling plant was developed for the site as well, since public tours are no longer available.

A fatherly figure called the Flavor Master, reminiscent of the character Grandpa Joe in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, made his debut on the company’s Facebook page. The Flavor Master, played by Al Chittaro, Faygo’s executive vice president, dispenses daily aphorisms to help pump up sales (the company has more than 60,000 Facebook followers). The missives include:

— “My wife says I’m lazy because all I’ve done today was drink Faygo. She can call it lazy; I’ll call it passionate about Faygo.”

— “Life’s about the simple pleasures, like walking the opposite way on escalators … or chugging a 3-liter of Orange Pop.”

Faygo’s presence on social media channels helps drive sales and awareness, Morden says. “Faygo competes with a lot of private brands, so we have to encourage people to ask for it,” he explains. “Online campaigns don’t work for every product or service, but for something like Faygo, it’s a natural.” db