Tara O’Rourke, Head of Coca‑Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland’s Hellenic Brands, shares some insights on our popular water brand Deep RiverRock

What do you believe are the essential components of making a brand successful?

A brand needs to be front of mind and have a meaningful point of difference in this competitive noisy world we live in.

People lead busy and complex lives, so we have an increasingly small window of opportunity to draw people’s attention to our brand or our latest campaign.  To have any cut-through, we need to be really clear about what we want people to recall and what attributes or information we want them to associate with our brand.

It is easier to stay in peoples’ heads if you reach their hearts. To connect on an emotional level, we must first develop a deep understanding of those people we want the brand to have a relationship with. We also must understand why those who already value the brand do so. Our consumers’ needs, values and aspirations, and culture all shape their perceptions of a brand.

Therefore, brands must build strong bonds with consumers. Marketing is about values, and brands with a purpose are more likely to achieve this connection. A brand needs to communicate where it fits, who and what it is, and what it stands for in order to play a unique role in enhancing the lives of their target and ultimately, to influence them.

Over your brand's history, what has been the most successful branding campaign - can that be quantified? 

Since investment commenced in building Deep RiverRock as a brand there have been many successful brand campaigns such as ‘Water You Wear’, ‘Purer than You’ (purity with attitude), and ‘Think Straight Hydrate’ (wellness with attitude). It was a combination of these campaign platforms that contributed to Deep RiverRock achieving an AdFx award in 2016 in the ‘long-term effectiveness category’.  This industry accolade recognised the business case for the long-term return on investment of ourDeep RiverRock brand over 10 years, which contributed to the commercial success of the brand. To quantify our campaigns, we track our Brands Equity scores to measure our brand’s relationship dynamics with our consumers. These parameters include awareness, imagery and consumption.  Our campaigns delivered strong performance for advertising recall and Deep RiverRock was also recognised as having ‘the most appealing advertising’.

When a brand has made it to household name status, how important is it to maintain the popularity and reputation of that brand and how can that be done?  

Even a great brand needs investment and care if it is going to retain its relevance and vitality.  As marketers, we’re all here to drive sustainable growth for our business, so brands leading in innovation and disrupting the conventional ways of doing business tend to win.

In today’s world, we know that to sustain future growth, brands need to be seen to improve the life of a consumer in a relevant way.  Therefore, a brand’s share of voice should be prioritised just as much as its market share.

It is also vital to ensure spending is being used effectively. For example, if a brand campaign is not driving awareness, search, and social commentary better than its competition, then the first step is to find out why.  If a brand is already salient, then alternative growth strategies could be considered in order to decide what activities will maintain relevancy and growth.

What are the most recent branding campaigns the company has undertaken?

Deep RiverRock launched its new ‘Thirst For Better’ campaign in July 2018. The platform connects Irish consumers in a common belief, their passions in life, in the power of community, family and each other.

 Deep River Rock’s commitment to protecting the environment also runs deep. The Deep RiverRock brand is committed to responding to the needs of our consumers, and that’s why we are now investing in communities and sustainability in equal measure. For us, that extends from our product portfolio of new sparkling and still flavours, to our commitment to innovative and sustainable packaging.


Our business has a firm commitment to a ‘World Without Waste’ and in 2019, we will take a number of actions to design more sustainable packaging. All of our bottles are already 100% recyclable, and we have begun a journey to integrate recycled plastic (PET) into our bottles, which will be accelerated over the coming year.

We have also been light-weighting our bottles, removing plastic from our supply chain completely. In In 2019, we will lightweight our Deep RiverRock 500ml bottle to just 13.5g, achieving a 39% reduction in plastic used across our portfolio since 2015!   

These actions will be supported by a 360 degree campaign, above and below the line, to raise awareness of our commitment to sustainability, while also encouraging consumers to play their part by recycling all bottles.   

What has been the bravest/riskiest campaign the brand has taken and how did it pay?  

Our current Deep RiverRock ‘Thirst For Better’ campaign has been a brave move in communications as we have entered into the typically more serious area of corporate social responsibility.  Through the campaign, Deep RiverRock is striving to mobilise the power of community. All Deep RiverRock packs offer consumers the opportunity to donate 10c/p to a registered community group. Consumers are asked to ‘Buy, Scan, and Donate’ their 10c/p to their group of choice, by redeeming a unique code at the back of each Deep RiverRock label and donating via www.deepriverrock.ie/thirstforbetter.


  • 10c/p Consumers can donate to a community group of their choice

Our consumer research told us that it is essential that we maintain Deep RiverRock’s quirky Irish personality and tone of voice throughout all creative elements, and this has set our campaign apart. Since launch eight months ago, we have found this to be a deeply rich platform with the potential for much greater scale.


Does digital and social media play a big role in how you get your brand out there? How valuable is it? 

Yes. As media formats and consumption habits have evolved, digital has really came to the fore as a cost effective and engaging way to reach our target consumers. We have explored a number of social platforms, digital advertising and worked with a number of Influencers as part of our overall PR and digital strategy. 

 Through our ‘Thirst for Better’ campaign, we also have experimented with new technologies. We are leveraging Facebook Chatbot once again to make the user-journey for donations as simple and relevant as possible.

 However, we understand the power of a fully integrated 360 campaign and digital remains just one channel amongst multiple touchpoints.