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Splendid Splenda achieves the holy grail of creativity and effectiveness

October 2019

This is a self-funded case study using our Advertising Testing solution.

Away from the prying eyes of the industry’s elite at Cannes, Splenda have been growing something special.

Partnering with Tennessee-based agency, Humanauts, a campaign was borne that is not just wonderfully creative – but taps into a hard-working brand message from the least likely of places. The dive into humour and ‘grow-your-own’ culture is a shining example of how creativity is so much more powerful when supported by cohesive brand integration, and a meaningful insight about the product – something severely lacking from many of the top performers at the Cannes Lions.

‘The Sweetest Thing You Could Grow’ aligns Splenda with the everyman, hellbent on sticking it to the corporation in a series of interruptions that achieve a surprising level of authenticity. The brand finds an unlikely opportunity in the marijuana legalisation movement – simply substituting salvia for stevia to leverage connotations of natural origins and destigmatisation.

Ultimately this is a gold star production, securing a coveted spot in the top percentile of our global TV database. That means you should definitely check it out (it’s 60 seconds of pure joy!), but also that it excels at every one of the ‘3 Cs’ we use to predict advertising effectiveness:

  1. Captivate: Does it attract and retain viewers’ attention, and engage them in an emotional way?
  2. Connect: Is it instantly recognisable for the brand?
  3. Compel: Does it leave people with a lasting impression about the brand, which primes them to choose it?


In the absence of strong production values, ‘The Sweetest Thing’ grabbed peoples’ attention through its creative and contemporary theme – brought to life by a cast of eccentric characters which help maintain a high level of interest throughout.

The humorous and outlandish narrative drew comical parallels between stevia plants and marijuana, an unorthodox but powerful insight that elicited high levels of amusement and excitement. The powerful emotional response encouraged discussion and sharing far beyond the reach of paid media, exhibiting a high level of talkability and shareability.


While captivating your target audience is the first essential ingredient for creating effective advertising, the second is to ensure it links to the brand in a clear and memorable way. Given Splenda doesn’t have a vast pool of branding properties to draw upon, ‘The Sweetest Thing’ made the product and key message synonymous with the story.

This was amplified by Splenda’s established position as the category leader, with the tonal shift of the campaign anchored by bookending it with previous brand messages around health and ‘zero calories’. Grounding the ad in more familiar messages allowed Humanauts to push perceptions of modernity and contemporary awareness to Splenda without abandoning previous positioning work.


The ad struck a fine balance between entertainment and information – humouring viewers with a creative narrative that organically highlighted the product’s natural properties. The stevia plants played a pivotal role in bringing the final product closer to its origins, while the ‘grow-it-yourself’ angle implied it was unprocessed and pure – both serving to distinguish the product from Splenda’s better-known range of artificial sweeteners.

Viewer engagement was sustained throughout despite this influx of product information, achieved by consistently deploying humour and pacing. This kept the overall messaging clear, and ensured Splenda’s tone of voice and positioning remained authentic. Secondary messaging thrived in this setup, laddering up to strong impressions of Splenda as reputable and tasty despite neither being a core focus of the advertising.


Splenda took a risk building a campaign which centred around the controversial topic of marijuana legalisation, but it paid off handsomely. ‘The Sweetest Thing’ successfully balanced humour and a unique creative idea, while not letting messaging and branding fall by the wayside. Parodying marijuana growing provided a myriad of opportunities because many of the intended associations were aligned, even if it seemed conceptually bizarre at first glance. This highlights the power of having a strong creative idea which aligns with the brand’s value proposition.

So, if you ever want to see what gold-class advertising looks like, don’t turn to the list of winners at the Cannes Lions – instead, look no further than ‘The Sweetest Thing’. Share it with your friends, family and colleagues, and celebrate how beautiful creativity can be when it doesn’t compromise effectiveness.

Splenda TV Advertising Testing Performance

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