Nesquik’s 70th Anniversary Pop Up: Innovative Nostalgia

In July 2018, Nesquik, the venerable chocolate milk company, celebrated its 70th Anniversary. To commemorate the event, the brand hosted its first experiential activation at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA. The goal of the week-long exhibition, called the Nesquik Milk Stop, was to honor the brand’s past while observing the ways in which it has evolved over the years.

The pop up cleverly milked nostalgia (pun fully embraced and intended) while including elements that would appeal to influencers and Millennials.

There were several fun elements to the activation beginning with the brand’s collaboration with celebrity chef (host of “Late Nite Eats” on the Cooking Channel) and restaurateur, Jordan Andino. For the pop up, Andino created two original drinks that use Nesquik as the base: the Candied Bacon Milkshake and Berry Banana Smoothie. (Andino also hosted a media-only preview held before the pop up opened to the public.)

“Nesquik's rich, milky flavor is a taste that fans have loved for 70 years. I wanted to create something that not only showcases this classic taste but brings this loyal community of fans together to experience the drink in fun, innovative ways,” Andino said in a press release.

Both of Andino’s creations could be found at “The Milk Bar,” where other Nesquik products were also available on tap. This horseshoe-shaped counter could sit several guests comfortably as they sipped their beverages.

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Photo Credit: Drinkpreneur

Guests could also choose to head over to the nearby Quicky’s Milk Truck (Quicky the Bunny is the mascot who appears on all of the brand’s packaging) where they could play with their food to construct custom “mega milk” beverages. These concoctions began as a basic glass of chocolate or strawberry milk (people who were lactose insensitive, and maybe wandered into the wrong pop up, were offered almond milk mixed with chocolate powder). Next, guests were given the option of coating the rim of their glasses with fixings that included shaved coconut, crushed almonds, or peanut butter and then add a final garnish, such as a watermelon wedge, orange slice, or (the very intriguing) peanut butter and jelly skewer. Finally, before slurping down their masterpiece, people were given the option of memorializing their creation (and share it on social media) by placing it on a glowing box with Nesquik Milk Stop background and snapping a photo.

There were several other photo ops, as well. One was a wall that was converted into a grocery store aisle packed end to end with Nesquik products and a branded shopping cart to wheel around. In another area, the floor was made to look like milk while, overhead, large drops of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavoring rained down as people posed underneath branded umbrellas.

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Photo Credit: Stuff in LA

And that was just on the first floor. Upstairs the activation contained the Throwback Lounge – an area painted in Nesquik’s vibrant yellow featuring a wall papered in nostalgic Nesquik ads and places to kick back and relax in a retro setting (which included a yellow jukebox and a sign reading, “Milk the Moment”).

However, the star of the upstairs area was the slide shaped like a straw that led straight into the ball pit filled with blue and yellow balls (the brand’s colors).

“For 70 years, families relied on the great taste of Nesquik to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and bridge generations by bringing families together. Now, fans will have the rare opportunity to see our vibrant history come to life through this unique sensory experience and sample Nesquik in new, customized ways that excite them for our future,” said Jacqueline Jimenez, the Marketing Manager for Nesquik.

This Nesquik activation was clearly playing on its audience’s nostalgia, but that it also featured plenty of Instagrammable moments indicates that a significant portion of the targeted group is the younger, Millennial crowd.

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Photo Credit: Stuff in LA

When Nesquik was created in 1948, it was originally called Nestlé's Quik. The product was exclusively a chocolate powder used to flavor milk. The Nesquik name came about a few years later when the product was first released in Europe during the 1950s. Over the following decades, the brand would evolve to include a strawberry flavor, syrups in addition to powder, and bottles that are ready-to-drink. Quicky the Bunny was introduced in the 1970s, and in 1999, the product became known as Nesquik worldwide.

Interestingly, sales for Nesquik have been increasing in the U.S., but the brand is losing market share to TruMoo. It is believed that part of the reason is a general consumer shift toward healthier foods (TruMoo markets itself as being “packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins, plus, no GMO ingredients or high fructose corn syrup”).

In response, Nesquik started a shift to reduce the sugar content is all of its products. The brand did a slow rollout of its sugar reduction, so consumers could adapt to the change in taste. The brand has also released new, healthier products, including Nesquik No Sugar Added that only contains the sugar lactose found naturally in milk and Nesquik Power Breakfast with 12 grams of protein.

It’s no accident that Nesquik just launched its first experimental activation. Sure, the 70th anniversary was a perfect reason to do so, but it is highly likely that the brand would have found another reason (say, if it was a year later, the 71st anniversary).

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The same crowd that the brand is trying to appeal to with the lower sugar and higher protein options are the ones who will see their Instagram feeds fill up with images of specialty made Nesquik drinks and their friends hiding under umbrellas as chocolate rain falls around them while #Nesquik trends on Twitter. 

While the only people who were able to participate in the Nesquik Milk Stop were in and around Santa Monica, experiential activations like this are a powerful marketing force that spread a brand’s message far beyond just the people in the room.

For more of our thoughts on experiential activations or for ideas of how your brand can make a big splash, give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433.

sofia krsmanovic