DTC 35: 📦 Soda Brands: Facebook Ads Analysis
May 21, 2023
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Welcome to our first ever Saturday edition of DTC Newsletter!

The weekend read is best enjoyed in your favorite chair, with a warm beverage and a promise that you’ll get away from screens for at least a few hours today. 

From now on, expect fresh content in your inbox every Wednesday and Saturday. You can call DTC your weekly “twin peaks” of marketing insights.

Our weekend issue features a rotating menu of deep dish content. 

Over the next few weeks, look for in-depth DTC analysis, comparing the growth strategies of three healthy soda brands. 

Today’s DTC Brand Breakdown will examine the Facebook Ads strategies of Olipop, Ugly, and Poppi.

Wait, there’s more…

📦 Become an industry expert with Attest’s 2021 Guide to Direct to Consumer Trends

📦 How to scale a luxury DTC brand, with JBW watches

📦 Free access to “The Presell Page Blueprint” (Day 1 of our last Challenge)

📦 An invite to join Glossier, Pinterest, Tula Skincare and more at Aspire Higher, virtual event on Influencer Marketing, March 17-18

📦 Ready to sound smart(er) in Zoom calls? Check out our rundown of weekly DTC M&A activity

Curious about what’s really happening on Clubhouse? Read to the end for this week’s DTC Funnies 🐋


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DTC Healthy Sodas Breakdown: Part 1 Facebook Ads Analysis 

A can of Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar. Sprite isn’t far behind with 38 grams, but Mountain Dew crushes both with a whopping 46 grams. 

We’re definitely aware of the high sugar and other not-so-favorable ingredients our favorite sodas (or pops) contain.  

DTC brands Olipop, Ugly, and Poppi form a new regime of healthy sodas – a battle to win over the taste-buds of soda drinkers and La Croix lovers.  

With the U.S. soft drink market valued at almost $3 billion, we’re diving deep into how these brands are grabbing a piece of the pie. 

Over the next several weeks, we’ll dissect different strategic elements of each brand including: 

  • Facebook ads
  • Email strategy   
  • Website layout
  • Overall product experience (are the taste buds satisfied?) 

Today, we’re focusing on Facebook ads with the help of Pilothouse’s senior media buyer and soda connoisseur, Stu Mason.  

Let’s jump in: 



Started in 2017, Olipop is a tonic that combines the benefits of prebiotics, plant fiber, and botanicals to support your microbiome and benefit your digestive health. Each drink contains 2-5g of sugar, 9 grams of fiber, and variety packs cost $41.99 – the most expensive of the bunch.

Right off the bat, we noticed the sheer variety of creative that Olipop is testing. Anything from user-generated content and simple graphics to high-quality video and beautiful product shots. This provides the flexibility to mix and match creative with different types of copy and ad styles.

Olipop’s use of hyper-local targeting is one of our favorite aspects of their strategy. Ads are specifically targeted to individual cities with “Hey, Austin,” “Hey, Nashville,” or “Hey, Atlanta!” 



“Targeting particular cities within Facebook allows you to speak to a customer’s location, which can instantly boost conversion rate,” says Stu. It creates a personal feeling which increases the likelihood of a purchase. 

Also, did you notice the simulated text message conversation? This is definitely a scroll stopper. It’s intriguing, clever, and most importantly doesn’t look like a typical ad. Test this, and hyper-local targeting, with your own brand. 

As the “healthy soda alternative,” it’s important for Olipop to build credibility with this claim through professionals (doctors, nurses, dietitians). The ad below is UGC from a registered dietitian and nutritionist who highlights why she loves the drink.



The UGC style makes it authentic and having labels like “R.D, Ph.D.” or  “Nutritionist” helps increase the believability and legitimacy of your product.

Landing page, product page, or home page? 

Olipop leads a majority of consumers to a kick-ass landing page that’s designed to perfection and encompasses reviews, comparison charts, testimonials, and more. Other ads lead to individual product pages or their homepage. 

Further Observations & Suggestions: 

  • Create a transformational story ad. For example: “I used to drink 3 Cokes a day and now I drink Olipop instead.” 
  • Olipop heavily relies on short-form copy (which we love) but think about testing long-form copy. 
  • Great use of emojis. They’re not overpowering, and compliment the ads nicely. 
  • Test “fear-based” messaging. For example:“Did you know the average soda contains 39 grams of sugar?”


Launched in 2020 Poppi is a modern prebiotic soda with apple cider vinegar and less than five grams of sugar. A variety pack of 12 costs $29.88 and, instead of  Shopify or WooCommerce, the brand uses Amazon for checkout.  

Since launching in March of last year, the brand doesn’t have many Facebook ads. While they’re not as competitive with their number of ads, compared to Olipop and Ugly, they do have one massive advantage with the ads they are running – celebrity endorsement. 

Actress Olivia Munn came across Poppi after searching for different products to help with her autoimmune disease. After testing Poppi and loving it, the actress reached out to invest (jackpot). The post below is a TikTok-style video where she features the brand and various flavors on a profile with over 2.5M followers. 

Poppi boosted the video as three separate Facebook ads and let the $$$ flow in. Celebrity endorsements can be disingenuous, but in this case, it’s extremely authentic. The product clearly helps Olivia with her auto-immune disease and she doesn’t typically promote brands on her Instagram. It’s a win-win for everyone and reminder of how powerful genuine celebrity endorsements can be.                       


Besides Olivia Munn taking Poppi to the moon, other ads include UGC videos formatted into carousels. The content features real people, faces, and the product – a perfect combination that doesn’t look like a typical ad. With Poppi being so new the brand is relying heavily on UGC, which is a great idea. 



A bone to pick: 

Poppi doesn’t use the same color logo in their ads. They interchange orange and green and sometimes pink and yellow. “I get what they’re trying to do, extend the brand’s theme, and introduce fun and playfulness – but their brand recall will suffer because of it,” says Stu. 

Our advice: stick with the flagship logo and build consistent recall. 

Landing page, product page, or home page? 

Since Poppi can only be purchased through Amazon, a majority of ads lead to their Amazon page. Only one ad leads to the brand’s website. As believers in owning your own data, we hope Poppi begins to transition their ads more towards their website and landing pages down the road. 

Further Observations & Suggestions: 

  • Test, test, test, and more tests. As the brand continues to mature with FB ads, the number one thing we recommend is testing different creative, copy, and formats. Take a page out of Olipop’s book 😏 
  • We’ll say this again: Pick a logo and stick with it! It takes a long time to build recall with one logo let alone trying multiple. 



Launched in 2017, Ugly is a flavored sparkling water with no sugar, no sweetener and no calories. A variety pack of 24 costs $24.99 – the cheapest of the three brands.  

Similar to Olipop, Ugly positions itself as a healthy alternative to soda, but their approach to ad creative is totally different. The brand leans heavily into memes and comparison graphics with well-known brands like Dr. Pepper and Monster. Calling attention to such big name brands is awesome for your ads and it’s frankly surprising they can get away with it legally. More power to ’em. 




Comparisons clearly communicate how Ugly is different, but we’d like to see them expand their creative with UGC, pictures with faces and higher-quality video. The ads lack variety especially in the color format. While the colors are on brand, a customer seeing the ad for the first time doesn’t care if it’s on brand or not. 

Ugly’s use of informal and to-the-point copy is witty and transparent, which consumers enjoy. It can’t get more informal than “Need a new fizzy fix? Ditch the dew and glug an Ug.” This language helps Ugly stand out from competitors like La Croix who wouldn't dream of saying something like that. 

Landing page, product page, or home page? 

Ugly leads a majority of users to a killer landing page which includes UGC from their Instagram (use this in your ads, Ugly!) Other ads mentioning certain flavors link to their variety pack which is common practice in this industry. Variety packs are the highest AOV (average order value) and it will appeal to a wider audience since it has multiple flavors.

Further Observations & Suggestions: 

  • Like Poppi, we’d love to see Ugly expand their creative and test more styles! This could include testing alternative color pallets, UGC, video, and more!

That’s all the Facebook analysis for now. Our next review will cover each brand's email strategy!

Ever wish you could just jump into the minds of your consumers? Have a little market research Freaky Friday moment?


With Attest’s 2021 Guide to Direct-to-Consumer Trends, you get the insight without the elaborate plot device. 


Attest surveyed 2000 working-age US consumers to assess the opportunity for DTC sales in 2021. Save the guesswork and take a read of the report to get to the bottom of exactly what shoppers are looking for from DTC brands.


Here’s a sneak peek to whet your appetite:




You can download the full report here, or start your own consumer research today.

Last week the DTC Team hosted the Presell Page Challenge, and 400 members of the DTC community joined in (!!!).  

Has your FOMO set in? 

Presell pages, also known as landing pages, can be a game changer for your biz.

Watch day 1, “The Presell Page Blueprint” for free on our Facebook page. This presentation gives you everything you need to know about getting started with building presell pages. 

For the full course, including Day 2’s copywriting workshop and Day 3’s deep dive on testing and optimizing, you can join DTC+ for just $1.

10 Million Diamonds: Scaling a Luxury Brand 10x

Last year we had the pleasure of chatting with Amir Meghani and Frank Alfaro III from JBW Diamond Watches

If you’re interested in scaling luxury brands, this podcast is a timeless treasure trove of value, so read on for its best moments summarized. 

Amir knows watches. His grandfather started a watch business in India. His father started a watch business in Dallas. Amir did the same, but took it to a whole new level. He launched his own brand, JBW Diamond Watches, using celebrities and eCommerce as vehicles for massive growth.

Let's take a look at a few key takeaways from the guys’ discussion:

📦 When launching into eCommerce, be ready to experiment

JBW's first three months with Pilothouse were spent collecting data and applying different targeting. They gradually rolled the program out from Facebook to Google to Pinterest and then Youtube. The beginning of the collaboration was about finding what would stick, iterating, and building a rock-solid foundation for growth. 

📦 Nail your customer avatar

The guys at JBW had a crystal-clear vision of their customer. JBW buyers know big brands, have technical knowledge, a history with watches, and, most importantly, love to shine. Once eCommerce-savvy millennial buyers hone in on the value, they are off to the races. 

JBW has also found that once a consumer locks into their brand, they stay loyal, becoming advocates and consistently upgrading their watches from entry level offerings. It seems JBW diamonds are forever.

All these insights are critical for the team at JBW in strategizing and refining how to best serve their niche. 

📦 Premium content for a premium brand

JBW does not compromise on quality, whether that's in product design, product quality, or media creation.

This means that JBW produces much of their content in-house, ensuring the narrative of quality is maintained across their socials. Photos stay online for a long time, so JBW ensures that any content released will reflect the brand well for its entire shelf-life on the internet.

💣 Retargeting Value Bomb: Part of JBW’s content strategy is catching a potential ‘no’ before it happens. Their retargeting efforts make sure to surface content that specifically addresses the known fears people might have about their brand. 

In the case of JBW this is that diamonds aren’t genuine (they are), or that people won’t be able to afford their products (they can… with Klarna).

📦 Be ready for the unexpected

Luxury items tumbled 50% at the outbreak of Covid – JBW didn’t. The brand was quick to update their website and ads to respond to the crisis, and Pilothouse was quick to capitalize on any changes in the ad market. The result was continued growth in a time where similar brands were suffering. 

Want to hear more about Amir’s path, the ins and outs of their crazy growth with Pilothouse, and their dream celebrity endorsements? Tune into the pod here.

Want to hear some of the most successful brand entrepreneurs and content marketers explain the most valuable aspects of social-centered commerce? 

We can’t wait for it. AspireIQ knows the influencer game inside and out, and they’ve brought together a real A-list of speakers from brands, agencies (and even Pinterest) to this FREE event. 

Register for Aspire Higher: The Summit, right now.

#1 virtual event for influencer marketers and eCommerce brand builders in 2021

This FREE two-day event brings together industry experts from Glossier, Right Rice, and dozens more to connect innovative marketers across eCommerce, influencer, brand, social, and community. 

Unleash creativity and advance your career – register today!

I mean, just check out these speakers 👀

🎧 Square buys majority stake in Jay-Z’s music streaming service,Tidal

🚀 Snapcommerce raises $85 million for AI-powered eCommerce messaging

📺 Whatnot raises $20 million for its live streaming platform built for selling collectibles 

👰 David's Bridal and The Black Tux announce exclusive partnership 

📱 Emotive, a platform that allows brands to build better relationships with customers via text, raises $50 million series B

🔥 Social commerce startup Elenas raises $6 million.The company helps tens of thousands of women in Latin America sell products online

💄 Newness, a platform aimed at beauty creators, raises $3.5 million seed round

😎 Roku acquires Nielsen’s advanced video advertising business 

🌾 Cellular agriculture start-up, Future Fields, lands $2.2 million seed round  

💵 First Boulevard raises $5M for its digital bank aimed at Black America 

🧼 Munich-based startup Everdrop raises $21.8 million series A funding for its dissolvable cleaning tablet

Eric here with a brief Clubhouse platform update:

How it started:

How it’s going:

Haha – we love Clubhouse, but we’ve only hosted one.  

What do you say, DTC Weekend Reader? Should we do more DTC Clubhouse, or should we stick to whale moans?

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