Category G02. Challenger Brand
Idea Creation ÅKESTAM HOLST Stockholm, SWEDEN
Production HALAL Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS
Name Company Position
Hugo Wallmo Åkestam Holst NoA Art Director
Petter Nylind Åkestam Holst NoA Copywriter
Andreas Karlsson Åkestam Holst NoA Art Director
Noah Bramme Åkestam Holst NoA Copywriter
Nicole van Rooij Åkestam Holst NoA Account Director
Agneta Oppenheim Åkestam Holst NoA Account Manager
Karl Wikstöm Åkestam Holst NoA Planner
Leila Widgren Åkestam Holst NoA Agency Producer
Theresa Lee Zonars BKRY NoA Graphic Designer
Magnus Persson BKRY NoA Graphic Designer
Madja Amin Halal Director
Francine van der Lee Halal Executive Producer
Job Sander Halal Producer
Magnus Jakobsson Åkestam Holst NoA Creative Director

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

The Swedish sports drinks and challenger brand Maurten made global success by launching Maurten Unofficial - a product range for everyone using Maurten under the radar, targeted at athletes sponsored by others. We built a brand by removing it. Using avantgarde anti-design and a campaign starring anonymized elite athletes, we launched a new product series expanding the brand by activating a new target group and engaging the existing, earning exposure in press and on the shelves at the retailers. Site traffic increased by 146% (set target 40%), revenue 28% (set target of 5%) and the hero product sold out.


Maurten is a Swedish innovation in sports - a carbohydrate gel and a sports drink based on hydrogel technology, which helps elite athletes perform without side effects or the stomach problems and cramps that are a common problem with energy supplement products. Maurten is a success fuel that has already helped many athletes and amateurs to new records and wins, and has garnered much attention and appreciation among elite athletes around the world. The challenge? That many of the athletes using Maurten do not make it in the open, as they are already sponsored by other brands - global giants with budgets that Maurten cannot compete with. Which makes it difficult for Maurten to reap the fruits of this success. But as true athletes, Maurten decided that if they could not win on raw strength, they could instead outwit their opponents - and turn a problem in to a strength.

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

The product is the idea: Maurten Unofficial. An un-branded product range designed for athletes sponsored by others. Targeted at everyone who wants to benefit from the Maurten hydrogel technology, without breaking contracts. Unofficial is the same as the official Maurten products that many elite athletes use – under the radar – but in incognito packaging, mixed in bottles with pixelated logos and delivered in anonymized boxes. Even the Unofficial site is without visible logos. Maurten Unofficial not only covers an invisible part of the market, it also doubles as an excuse to highlight the phenomenon of elite athletes using it under the radar – but in a humble way, saying that we always put athletes first, even if it means covering up our own logo. A new product that has a market of its own, but helps pushing the original product simply by highlighting the purpose of its own existence.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

We wanted to target amateur athletes and sports enthusiasts, especially (but not only) those that are into endurance sports. To reach them, we made a campaign aimed at the elite athletes they look up to and follow. Our insight was to embrace the problem that many elite athletes use Maurten in secret instead of/alongside the brand the are sponsored by, and use this phenomenon to create awareness and interest in the brand. We wanted Maurten to be perceived as the great "unofficial" nutrition of choice for elite athletes around the world, and plant a seed of doubt in of all the world's sports enthusiasts and amateur athletes every time they saw an athlete win or beat their personal best – that maybe the logo on their sponsored bottle isn’t what’s actually in it. Maybe it’s actually Maurten.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We launched Maurten Unofficial – anonymized Maurten products with everything from anonymized packaging to bottles with censored logos – with films in SoMe where we got to follow 3 real anonymous elite athletes, but with censored faces and distorted voices. And launched an Unofficial site, where logos are either removed or pixelated. The official purpose was to offer a discreet alternative for those who want to use Maurten despite other partnerships/sponsorship agreements. But the unofficial backbone was to direct the world's gaze to the fact that many elite athletes use Maurten to perform at the top, and create conversation and interest. Maurten Unofficial killed two birds with one stone, more value to loyal customers and greater buzz about Maurten's innovative products. But above all, we succeeded with a branding contradiction – to build a brand by removing it. By making Maurten anonymous, we paradoxically made them more famous than ever.

List the results (30% of vote)

The campaign in SoMe reached 9 million people, more than twice the target of 4 million people. On Youtube, the campaign was seen by 1.6 million people (target reach of 500,000). The number of visitors to Maurten's site increased by 146% compared to the previous period (over 100% higher than the set target of 40%). Total revenue on the site increased by 28% - well above the set target of 5%.

Please tell us about the challenger brand and how your campaign challenged / was different from your competitors

Maurten is a small brand in their category. But with products so good it has caused them an unusual problem. While their competitors have budgets big enough to sign deals wit the biggest stars of endurance sports, many of the sponsored athletes actually use Maurten, but secretly to not endanger their contracts. Maurtens motto being “Athletes first”, we don’t want to call these athletes out. Instead, we went for making life easier for these pros. And for a small company with a small budget to challenge the giants and their multimillion budgets, the marketing also need to be challenging. So we released a special line, Maurten Unofficial. The packaging is brandless and free of logos or recognizable colors, though the product itself is unchanged. So athletes can use it even in public, without worrying about angering big-name brands. By making Maurten anonymous, we made them more famous than ever.