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How an RC Cola Partnership Made Gelsva One of Lithuania's Top Selling Bottlers

4 2022

Learn how a Lithuanian bottler boosted their brand awareness by a staggering 86% by working with RC Cola on a go to market strategy involving a major star in the local rock scene. 

Lithuanian RC Cola bottler Gelsva wanted to launch a new product and increase their market share from 0 to up to 39% in certain supermarkets and vendors. To do this, they embraced a beverage marketing strategy that reflected their desire to reach new and potentially younger, more enthusiastic customers  - partnering with a well-known cultural figure and influencer.

In 2018 Cola dominated the market and RC Cola was unheard of. 

About Gelsva’s partnership with RC Cola

Lithuanian beverage industry giant Gelsva UAB’s story began in 1991 as bottlers of mineral water. Gelsva partnered with RC Cola 2018 in order to expand their business and break into the large Carbonated Soft Drink (CSD) market.

They had 3 main challenges

  1. To convince consumers that there are more than 2 global cola brands.
  2. To educate consumers about RC Cola’s USA origin to encourage trust.
  3. To inspire consumers to choose freely, with independence from the influence of big players.

In the three short years since deciding to bottle RC Cola, Gelsva has made a major splash in Lithuania's CSD category.

Two RC Cola flavors, original and no sugar, have entered the top 20 SKUs of sodas sold each month in Lithuania. Additionally, Gelsva now enjoys a respectable CSD market share, especially considering the short period of time they’ve been bottling RC Cola.

In 2020, RC Cola International gave Gelsva a commendation for its spectacular 2019 sales. 

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So what’s the secret to Gelsva’s stunning success, after just three years in the market? 

After choosing to partner with RC in 2018, Gelsva’s marketing team gathered together and reviewed what other RC brands were doing around the world. They decided to look for a celebrity that represented the best of both worlds, The RC Cola American spirit and the local Lithuanian market. 

Star power and brand awareness

Led by charismatic singer Egidijus Dragunas, Sel is one of Lithuania’s hottest musical groups. The versatile band’s sound has evolved over the years, with albums ranging in genre from hip-hop to rock and techno-influenced dance music. When counting their original hits, along with collaborations with other musical acts, Sel has scored a whopping thirty songs on Lithuania’s Top 40 Songs List, making Dragunas a well-known figure in Lithuania.

‘Our goal was to find a well known influencer whose values would match the brand’s values, in order to generate awareness” said Monika Gumbrevičiūtė, Deputy Head of marketing at Gelsva. “Saving on campaign budget was not our primary goal. Therefore, we chose to partner with a high-profile, very well-known Lithuanian musician.”

RC Cola Dragunas

Gelsva reached out to Dragunas, whose independent attitude and authentic image aligned with both RC Cola’s American spirit and the preferences of the local Lithuanian market. Their slogan was “feel free to choose” and Dragunas’ extrovert attitude fitted it perfectly. Rocking a distinctly American look, including a cowboy hat, Dragunas’ was a very natural fit for the brand, and his endorsement of RC Cola has had a huge impact on the brand’s market presence and identity in Lithuania. 

RC Cola’s marketing department guided Gelsva to connect to RC Cola’s legacy, which inspired the commercial itself, with the slogan “Trend that Never Gets Old”.

Get in touch with the RC Cola Team for influencer marketing advice

Beyond Dragunas’ TV appearances, Gelsva invested in a full marketing campaign involving digital media, in-person events, and sampling. The initiative presented RC Cola as a century-old American beverage, with a storied legacy of remaining true to its roots despite oft-changing beverage trends. 

RC Cola Dragunas Promotion

Gelsva knew that people had a willingness to try the product and once people tried the product they liked it, but very few people had actually managed to try it. So they started a number of successful promotions. These included giveaways, with purchasers of RC Cola products winning free tickets to a Sel concert, and branded products such as sunglasses, jackets, caps and T-shirts.

Gelsva's RC Cola Promotions

Additionally, Gelsva invested in a strong physical presence, including signage, race cars and branded beach umbrellas at a popular seaside spot during the summer. All of these activities were strategically planned by the whole Gelsva team.

The consistent American messaging around RC Cola, including incorporating American flags in banner ads and the use of classic American iconography. A TV commercial that prominently featured the Statue of Liberty, paired with Dragunas deeply ingratiated RC Cola with Lithuanian consumers.

Campaigns also encouraged users to choose freely and think before buying.

Spontaneous brand awareness reached 86% and sales soared. The 2019 contract with Dragunas proved so lucrative for Gelsva that the agreement has been extended through 2021. RC Cola became one of the hottest beverage trends in Lithuania, with consumers strongly embracing the brand’s unique American heritage.

After 3 years RC Cola was being distributed to over 940 clients and at over 1400 selling points.

After 3 years RC Cola was being distributed to over 940 clients and at over 1400 selling points.


Gelsva's Market Share Grew

Partnering with RC Cola and Dragunas and using RC Cola’s legacy proved to be a winning combination that led to phenomenal results and Gelsva winning the RC award. 

Partnering with a local influencer that embodies the brand’s spirit, identity, and values proved to be majorly beneficial to Gelsva. By working with a personality who resonates with the domestic market, Gelsva won the hearts and minds of their target audience. This case demonstrates how finding the right celebrity to resonate with your target consumer is more important than snagging the highest-profile influencer possible.

Gelsva did everything right when it comes to beverage marketing. By making sure that they knew their audience’s preferences, they were able to choose the right influencer for maximum market impact. Additionally, they adopted a multichannel strategy that encompassed everything from physical events to virtual giveaways to intensive social media outreach.

Download the Case Study

There are countless ways to connect with your customers through influencer marketing, but it’s critical that you build a strategy that’s the right fit for your audience and your company’s capabilities. Be in touch with RC Cola for more advice on best practices for beverage marketing - we’d love to help guide you.Get in touch with the RC Cola Team!