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How Fiji Water’s Marketing Team Harnessed the Power of the #FijiWaterGirl

#FijiWaterGirl generated $12 million worth of ad impressions

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Getty/Photo Illustration

There’s photobombing, then there is a photo blitzkrieg. The latter was achieved by #FijiWaterGirl, aka model Kelleth Cuthbert, at the 2019 Golden Globes this past Sunday. She worked her angles, appearing in seemingly every photo of a major celebrity walking the red carpet. She cameoed in shots of Julianne Moore, Heidi Klum and Idris Elba wearing the signature blue dress and holding a tray of Fiji water to hydrate guests.

 

As the photos began circulating on social media, the focus began shifting away from the stars and what they were wearing and onto Cuthbert. Twitter users began to point out the true serve the model was giving cameras, gazing down every lens.

Conveniently, the Fiji Water tray, with the Fiji logo, could be seen in almost every shot. Searches for "Fiji Water" spiked on Google both during and the day after the Golden Globes aired. It was a marketing moment a brand could only dream of—and according to Apex Marketing Group, it would have taken an equivalent spend of $12,006,579 in paid advertising to get the same amount of ad impressions.

 

“Since this went viral it took the [brand] exposure to a new level not seen in prior Golden Globes,” Apex Marketing Group President Eric Smallwood told Yahoo Finance.

While all this attention has been proven to translate into brand equity for other companies that have gone unexpectedly viral, the #FijiWaterGirl was not planned, says Clarence Chia, Fiji's vice president of marketing and e-commerce.

 

“For more than a decade, Fiji Water has proudly maintained a presence at high-profile events with Fiji Water brand ambassadors including major award shows, international film festivals and movie premieres,” Chia told ONE37pm in an email. “When we’re on the red carpet, our goal is to hydrate celebrities with Earth’s Finest Water and garner as much exposure as possible. At this year’s Golden Globes, our objective was the same, but with such compelling photos the social media world took notice and ran with it.”

On the actual night of the Globes, as #FijiWaterGirl began trending on Twitter, the official @FIJIWater account only tweeted once, along with a few retweets of outlets who had pointed out Cuthbert's engaging presence. Though it seems amiss that no social team was on hand to take this moment and run with it at the time, @FIJIWater has since been creating its own memes of Cuthbert as she makes her press rounds, gaining priceless brand placement for Fiji in the media.

 

All of which to say, “We’re thrilled that Fiji Water has become a viral sensation and it has exceeded our expectations,” Chia adds.

Chia didn’t expand on Fiji’s post-mortem business strategy to capitalize on such a moment, but assured me that Fiji Water is “prepared to strike while the iron is hot.”

 

Perhaps Cuthbert will be the star of the brand’s next campaign? At the very least, she made an otherwise innocuous Golden Globes ceremony a lot more interesting, and probably quenched some thirst along the way.

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