Full Throttle

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FULL THROTTLE® ENERGY DRINKS: Inside Tips for Iconic Sips

by Phillip Gary Smith, ‘Media Matters’ Columnist
published July 5, 2009 in Radioactive Drag Racing

The world of drag racing is fortunate to win a title sponsor with the coolest brand name going, fitting the sport like a super-charger bolted on a dragster,  plus adding the heft and smarts of The Coca Cola Company to the game. 

Full Throttle is like having a personal beverage of consumable nitro. It can pick one up and move the physique along seemingly without having to expend any effort, just like mashing a dragster pedal a fraction zooms a race car along at lightning speed.

I became a fan of the drink like I became a fan of drag racing: I tried it.

A long time ago, when I wasn’t as smart as I thought, I was strictly one of those circle track people. Then my brother encouraged me to attend one of drag racing’s National Events with him; it was a seminal happening, changing my life from a plateau of normality to a precipitous addiction where one converses with a strange vocabulary that would make an engineer envious.  Speaking of “elapsed times” and adding phrases and numbers like “with a 6”, can lead to a strange way of talking at the service station: “Yes, I’m on # 9 and I  pumped 15.77 with a 6.” Drag racing permanently altered my understanding of true speed.

That’s kind of  how I discovered Full Throttle’s terrific taste and energy benefits. Rarely would I consume the hyped brands of other energy drinks because they seemed to have a funny aftertaste, at least to me. When Full Throttle stepped up to become the title sponsor, I bought the ‘Original’ flavor just to test it and instantly, or so it seemed, became a connoisseur of the beverage, savoring my drink like a fine wine, or at least how I think people enjoy fine wines.

Then Full Throttle stays ahead of me by introducing a whole new segment for their drinks: coffee Full Throttle with flavors like vanilla (refreshingly good), caramel (wow), and my new addiction, mocha, which tastes like fresh chocolate that just kicks your butt into action.

Now there is Full Throttle Zero, meaning it tastes just like the original citrus but without any calories. You can go and spend those saved calories on something else, putting them to good use, for example, by getting one of the specialties at the Norwalk National Event, a one pound dish of ice cream for a buck. Mix in a little Zero on that ice cream, and Hey!, I just invented the FT Zero Float.

For an even different twist, Full Throttle Hydration, a noncarbonated version, is charged with electrolytes and spiked with a unique energy-vitamin combo. For those athletic endurance events, whether 50 miles on mountain trails or 250 miles per hour on a quarter mile ‘trail,’ this may be the trick.  Perhaps this is the flavor of Full Throttle drivers should be handed as they are interviewed after winning a round of drag racing; the yellow can would stand out, that’s for sure, and the electrolyte / energy-vitamin combo would aid in recovery, which might just lead to better reaction times the next round.

For the delight for RadioActive Drag Racing readers, here is a special Fourth of July treat: inside information about those neat commercials gracing the air during the ESPN 2 and ESPN2 HD Full Throttle drag racing broadcasts.

In my regular event columns I  point out the commercials that are the best of the

weekend -- Full Throttle’s have been the best this season during any broadcast they are shown. Susan Stribling, Public Affairs & Communications / Coca-Cola North America, and Chris Lopez, Senior Marketing Manager, Sports / Coca-Cola North America, representing the Full Throttle team in Atlanta, took their valuable time to gather these responses for this special edition.

How was the idea of the campaign conceptualized to go so far away from 'normal' racing themes or class themes?

The entire campaign is based off the creative idea of “Full Throttle as the equipment and inspiration needed to overcome self-doubt.” (Wow! Contemplate that for a moment, race fans)

All energy drinks tend to get lumped together, so Full Throttle wanted to stand for an idea, a value that is shared by many energy drink lovers. The name Full Throttle is about doing everything at maximum capacity, so the brand could become that voice in your head spurring you on at the moment of truth. At the same time, the product delivers the energy you need to “Go Full Throttle or Go Home”.

Your 60 second commercials seem like short movies, capturing an emotional level that standard fare fails to get. Plus, there is a classiness to the spots that won’t allow a viewer to turn away or 'take a break' while they're on. How was the series conceived?

Some of the best emotional brands come from categories that were/are commodities: think Nike, think Apple. Energy drinks needed a brand to elevate the category above ingredients and can size. We intended to give Full Throttle a bigness that is typically reserved for iconic brands. Glad to hear that’s coming through.

The music that accompanies the black and white imagery is unique, often different takes on old standards, some just new music at least to my ears. How were these sounds conceived?

The music and the film treatment (black and white) were very intentional. When you think about the environment in which these spots appear -- race day Sunday, loud music, engines blaring -- the music and film set a very different tone. The tone the spots set is a quieter tone that is more about the conversations that might be going on in the heads of drivers or fans. The spots are still very inspiring, masculine and powerful even though they are a contrast from the typical horsepower of race day.

Your "Portrait" commercial, the one I call "Blue Moon," is perhaps my favorite because as a teenager, when this song was popular, I was  in  a quartet who sang this piece in a competition. To put our success in drag racing perspective, we did not qualify for Sunday Eliminations. The piece is done in a unique voice and tone.

The performance is by a group called “The Mavericks.” As for the racers photographed for the commercial(s), these are the Michael Jordans and Tiger Woods of the sport, and most people don’t even know what they look like. The “Portrait” commercial was a great opportunity to show the racing world the faces behind this exhilarating sport.

The spots have quickly risen to favorite status among NHRA fans. Not only have the commercials paid homage to the wonderful sport of drag racing, but they have brought energy drinks to a whole new level. We have had some wonderful feedback about the spots.

(I know some of you are thinking ahead of me here: when is a CD of the commercial’s music coming out? That I didn’t find out. Maybe the idea will stimulate their thinking about it?)


I asked for some example responses from others they have heard from:

One fan described the spots this way: “What can you say...these ads have it all: Black and White for emotion, Killer tone-setting music and fantastic imagery. This is a GREAT series of ads.”

Also, “These spots elevate the sport (of drag racing) and the Full Throttle brand. They’re about humanity, not machines.”

So, on this birthday of America weekend -- and here’s to another 233 years! -- celebrate with energy, confidence and enthusiasm the Full Throttle experience . . . take in the Full Throttle approach to life and seize its creative vigor, and like their concept states, let the drink of choice for drag racing “. . . give you the equipment and inspiration needed to overcome self-doubt.”

Let me know your favorite Full Throttle flavor and your person FT story at phil@go2geiger.com.