The Rock Meets… The Rock, For ZOA Energy


Feel The Energy


A piece of advice we often give at System1 is to use cultural references in your ads. Tapping into the wider culture makes your brand feel more relevant, less like it only wants to talk about itself. When those cultural references trigger nostalgia or happy memories that can be another bonus, drawing the attention of the context-hungry right hemisphere of the brain.

Energy drink ZOA’s new ad, developed with Haygarth USA, packs more cultural references into its 30 seconds than most brands manage in an entire campaign. There’s the instantly recognizable Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. There’s the slogan “Big Dwayne Energy”, a cheeky take-off on another kind of “Big D Energy” which was a meme a couple of years ago. There’s the rap hit “Big Energy” by Latto, which riffed on that meme and became a Top 3 hit. There’s the classic song “Big Energy” samples – Tom Tom Club’s “Genius Of Love” – which will evoke memories for 80s and 90s kids because of its use in Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”.

Oh, and to top it all off there’s a second Dwayne Johnson, in his younger guise – complete with an oh-so-90s fannypack.

That’s a lot of current references, a dash of nostalgia, and a big helping of fun. The “Big Dwayne Energy” pun and slogan ties it all together, with the conceit of the ad being that drinking ZOA literally turns you into The Rock (never mind your age or gender!). It’s a goofy but funny visual effect and a way of reminding viewers that Johnson is the founder and co-owner of ZOA. He also serves as – naturally – its Chief Energy Officer. Like Ryan Reynolds for Aviation Gin, The Rock is using his personal relationship with a brand to lend it not just authenticity but charisma.

ZOA Energy is a new brand, and the barrage of references help it grab attention in a busy category. It scores a good 3.8-Star Rating, thanks partly to the great twist with the second Dwayne, helping the ad meet the “peak-end rule” (people remember the high point of the ad and its ending – so you need to end well). Even better, though, it gets an Exceptional Spike Rating for short-term sales impact – crucial for a young brand looking to make an impact. Finally, its Brand Fluency for the ad is in line with the category average at 85%, a good showing for a brand that’s existed for less than 5 years.

“Big Dwayne Energy” is buzzing with energy itself – it puts so many different ideas together that it probably shouldn’t work, but with bags of confidence and a sense of self-mocking fun from The Rock it comes together with style, marking ZOA out as a brand with a very distinctive identity.

Create 5-star ads

The more people feel, the more they buy

The most effective ads boost sales and drive long-term growth. They do it by making people feel more - building positive associations with a recognisable brand. We predict sales and growth impacts by measuring emotion, letting you make ads that entertain for commercial gain.

Try Test Your Ad