Does Anything or Whatever Work?

June 3, 2007 Blog 23 comments

Anybody who has been reading anything in the media or spent anytime at our bus stops recently would have noticed this teaser campaign by Out of the Box Pte Ltd. In a radical departure from how traditional FMCG companies market new brands, the company has decided to name their new beverage brands “Whatever” and “Anything”.

This was accompanied by an extensive nation-wide teaser campaign on both mainstream media channels as well as outdoor media. Most of the ads had clever copy playing on the words “Whatever” or “Anything” accompanied by an eye-catching photograph or visual in bright colours. It certainly generated an extensive amount of buzz in the marketing circles.

Here is one of its TVCs aired on Singapore TV channels.

A sample of the bus-stop poster advertisement is seen below, with drink cans encircling the poster in the middle.


Here is the first twist. Immediately after putting up empty branded drink cans on their bus stop shelter ads, the company fell victim to extensive vandalism nationwide. Almost all the drink cans at 450 bus stop shelter ads were tampered with – cans were punctured, ring tabs were pulled out, or they were removed by desperate “rag and bone” thieves!

Because of the damage done to the cans, the company decided to remove them all for fear of breeding dengue-infested mosquitoes. Anybody living in Singapore will tell you that dengue is a very clear and present danger!

The second twist to the plot is that the act of vandalism got more publicity than the launch itself! Don’t believe me? Here is another example from Channelnewsasia. I also saw extensive reports in Shin Min, Wan Bao, and even Zaobao and The Straits Times.

While the company may have lost about $50,000 from the anti-social acts, the publicity mileage and mindshare that it received probably far outweighs that investment! This brings to mind a similar episode a few years ago at Zouk Out, when a huge balloon publicising the event was cut loose/ stolen.


What’s the final twist? Look at the supermarket shelves above. You can see the very obvious point-of-sales materials for both Whatever and Anything branded drinks. However, where are the cans of drinks? I hope that they don’t take too long to arrive because consumers in Singapore are notoriously fickle.

Brand building and awareness generation is always key for any new product launch. On both accounts, Out of the Box has done wonderfully. However, they need to be able to deliver the goods and to meet heightened consumer expectations after generating all that hype. I haven’t tasted the drinks yet so I will leave the verdict for later.

At the end of the day, it isn’t just about how hip, cool or sexy your marketing is. It is also about having quality products that are remarkable in themselves. Just ask Virgin Mobile, which had a spectacular high key start in Singapore but fizzled miserably in 2002 when they couldn’t offer real value to compete against entrenched incumbents Singtel, Starhub and M1.

Check out IZ Reloaded’s post on this too.

Update: I heard that the “Anything” range of drinks are gassy and come in flavours like cola, apple, lemon and root beer while the “Whatever” range are non-gassy in different tea flavours like lemon tea, apple tea and peach tea. Each can costs $1.20 each and you won’t know what flavour you are getting (which is the whole idea).

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. I think it’s a great way to break into a saturated market. It gets people curious, and people talks about it – free advertising.

    It gives people choice of not having to decide on what to drink. It’s the very same concept of some small restaurants where they don’t have a menu and you are served whatever the chef decides to prepare.

    And that is the whole point 🙂

  2. I must say I was really impressed (and still is) by their advertising and concept. So often, we hear of answers like “Anything…” when we asked what would you like to eat, or “Whatever…” when someone can’t be bothered. To actually use these terms as a product name does make people think twice about giving such answers. For all you know you really get “Anything” and “Whatever”.

    Do you know recycled cans/metals can fetch a price of $6-$8/kg from recycling factories? Hahaha.. I didn’t know until my cousin-in-law working in the recycling factory told me about it. Count themselves lucky the whole lot wasn’t stolen and sold to recycling factories.

  3. Interesting way to advertise and create a hype. I am not that adventurous when it comes to drinking beverage. At the bare minimum, I need to know what I will be drinking. It isn’t a nice thing for me if I get to drink a flavour that I dislike…

  4. Their main selling point is hype.

    How long can this hype last? Can this hype help them earn back the amount spend on marketing?

    I doubt so.

  5. oceanskies,

    Like most of the rest of us, you prefer to know what you are getting. However, I guess there is an increasing number who prefers the mystery of the game. Sometimes, too much choices can befuddle us like for example deciding where to go out to eat. That’s always a pain for my wife and I!

  6. uglyfatchick,

    Thanks for expanding on the options! I wonder how the choices taste though, being very much a taste-conscious consumer. For me, I stay clear from most canned or packet drinks due to their excessive amounts of sugar. Yeah, I am a bit of a health freak though I drink too much alcohol for my own good. Ha ha….

  7. stan,

    Thanks for popping over! I think the challenge is really sustainability. The initial novelty and cleverness of the campaign could attract the “innovators” amongst their customer groups. However, keeping them hooked for the long term will probably require something more than just an intelligent ad campaign. Hopefully, they can conceive more “out of the box” solutions as the parent company’s name befits!

  8. dk,

    Let’s see how their roll out plans are beyond the initial hype. I sincerely hope that they can continue along this wave. I have seen far too many one hit wonders in Singapore’s consumer marketplace already…

  9. endoh,

    Its a sign of the times. In the age of social media/ 2.0/ citizen centric journalism, people are less decided on what they want. Serendipity (or aimless wandering) takes precedence over being dead-focused on what you want in life. Perhaps the business strategy of this company panders to this day and age? Sometimes, being surprised and having an air of mystery may be better than knowing what you are gonna get from the onset.

  10. i think its marketing campaign created a great hype that makes its lacklustre product seem almost attractive.

    i think sustaining sales figures might be a problem. long after this product gets cold storaged, the marketing campaign remains in people’s minds and the that marketing agency comes out tops.

  11. imp,

    The company rolling out the “Whatever” and “Anything” range of drinks is more well known for its innovative marketing than beverage manufacturing. To me, the way in which this product is rolled out smacks of “Virgin Mobile” which came out with a huge bang but fizzled out with a whimper when sales couldn’t make the cut.

    Hype without substance is worthless. As Seth Godin would tell you, one should make one’s products remarkable first and foremost before looking at the other Ps of marketing. Long term sustainability and Word Of Mouth is always an effect of great products rather than great advertising.

  12. I honestly suspect that the “vandalism” of the outdoor displays was a cleverly concocted PR campaign to drive more awareness and publicity.

    That’s what I’d have done. ^^

  13. That’s a pretty smart marketing gimmick. However, kind of a poor show that there are no goods to show for. If they don’t soon stock up the shelves, people are not going to remember the drink.

    “Excuse me, can I have Whatever drink?”


    “Don’t have ah, Anything also can.”

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a good name. Well, we’ll see.

  14. these did caught my attention for a while, and no, i’m not rushing out to buy one to try. i like to know what i’m drinking & that’s goes with my food as well. ;P

  15. tigerfish,

    I guess sometimes clever marketing is needed to break through the consumer clutter. I wonder though how effective comedy is in reaching out to (mostly) straight-laced Singaporeans?

  16. earthember,

    Yep, inability to stock up on your goods is always a poor move. It creates hype and demand but doesn’t cause the cash registers to ring. Bad for both the manufacturer and the retailer.

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>