DANA POINT, CA: Vita Coco, the leading brand of coconut water, has successfully demonstrated how seeding products with various kinds of influencers can help build awareness and ultimately drive sales.

Jane Prior, Vita Coco's evp/global brand strategy and development, discussed this topic at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Brand Masters Conference.

And she reported that at numerous points in the decade since the brand launched, it has targeted celebrities, sportspeople and influencers to access new markets, spread word of mouth and fuel demand.

One example relates to an early stage in Vita Coco's history, when it was seeking to make headway in several US cities.

In pursuing that aim, it gave field marketers in these urban hubs a single - if difficult - mission: "In your market, let's get the product into the key sports teams," Prior said in describing this goal. (For more, including more strategic tips, read Warc's exclusive report: How Vita Coco seeded a coconut-water brand.)

"We don't care how you do it: just get it done. Whatever it takes, just get it done. But we're not giving you anything except the product … No money. No other opportunities for negotiation."

Despite the obvious challenges related to achieving this objective, the on-the-ground efforts quickly began paying dividends, notably in Boston with the Red Sox baseball team.

"Amazingly, they were able to do it, whether it was through the equipment manager, the security guard at the gate … or people in the front office," said Prior.

The Red Sox players, she added, were soon drinking so much Vita Coco that it became hard to match the demand.

"Our local market manager," said Prior, "was coming to us every month saying, 'I'm out of product! The Red Sox are taking it all!'"

Reaching cultural trendsetters in Brooklyn proved equally beneficial, and this strategy has remained part of Vita Coco's toolkit - as shown by its attempts to connect with members of the television industry.

"By seeding writers, producers, and talent, we've been integrated into segments on 'Entourage', 'Two Broke Girls', 'Hawaii Five-O', 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Parks and Recreation,'" said Prior.

"Again: none of them paid for; all out of real love for this brand."

Data sourced from Warc