Night-Import: Photography by William Lee, Interview by William Lee and Edgar Lozoya
*Please be advised the interview was recorded and directly transferred to words.
When we think of an automotive sports drink, what brand comes in mind?
I don't know about you guys, but going to events since last year till today, the booth I've seen the most and being one of the most active booths out of all was NOS Energy Drinks. On most of our event and meet coverage's, there was at least one photo of NOS. I'm not trying to emphasize myself, but take a look at our event coverages. The work and amount of time NOS spent to promote themselves is beyond our speculations.
Last week, our editor Edgar Lozoya and I went down to NOS Energy Drink's Marketing Department to do an interview with the head marketing team leader Brian Khou. We already know about NOS, but we wanted to know more about the company and the history behind it.
Luckily, the company had their general staffs meeting on the day of the interview, including the models, so we started off the coverage with a pleasant photo.
There were several things in the front entrance of the office, one of them being the Glacéau sign on the wall. Glacéau is in the branch of Coca-Cola, mainly distributing 'enhanced water', such as Smart Water and Vitamin Water.
We did an interview during our tour with Brain and asked several questions regarding the company.
Night-Import: How did the marketing start for NOS Energy Drinks?
Brain (NOS): Glacéau Tasting Vehicle is basically how the marketing for Vitamin Water started (Same branch as NOS). All of it started with the marketing manager Rohan Oza who was a marketing genius. His idea was to take these vehicles, invest about $50,000 each, and send them and hand out the drinks one at a time to create a bond and experience/impression with the people, which is how things blew up. We are continuing this as of today and using the exact same strategy. Glacéau was sold to coca-cola for about $4.1 billion so it had a lot of value within the brand itself. And as for the Energy drinks, now a $4.4 billion company, it's been focusing with GTV (ground support), what we do here, and then radio, television, all that good stuff.
All of the NOS girls came out of the meeting room to play Street Fighter 4.
They were getting ready to kick some butts.
Some action movements going on. More of the model shots at the bottom, so let's focus on why we came to NOS :D
There are about 12 staffs working all together in the marketing department. It might sound like a small marketing group, but this department focuses in the Souther California area.
Night-Import: How many marketing branches do you guys have in the US.
Brian (NOS): You can pretty much say there’s one team in each state. Each department is responsible for marketing NOS at events in their state.
Night-Import: NOS is focused on what part of the community? When did you guys officially start?
Brian (NOS): Automotive and Gaming. Our heritage is obviously based off of Nitrous Oxide, which is licensed by Holley. I can’t tell you much in detail, but we have sponsored Chris Forseberg, Formula D, etc. and the way I feel it is that we are taking a super active role in the community as well as building up the brand. We create the experience and show people we are supportive and a part of the automotive community. Before I came to NOS, I was all into motorsports, especially drifting, which eventually changed my life.
As mentioned by Brian, NOS focuses their marketing in the Gaming and Automotive industry. We could see here that NOS had some recognition in Import Tuner and DSPORT.
They even had their own backpacks, made by Ogio.
Night-Import: Putting aside the motorsports marketing for a second, how was the sales rate since you became the marketing director starting from summer last year.
Brian (NOS): Phenomenal.
Night-Import: So it’s working.
Brian (NOS): Correct, its working. NOS have experienced double digits growth for the past 4 years. We are the fastest growing energy drink and to top it off, our product is made with high performance formula. For example, we have much more caffeine than any other energy drink in the market. For those who want energy, they think of NOS. We definitely consider the taste as well. There are several different flavors to choose from. If you don’t like this, you might like that. Hint: More flavors are coming out.
Night-Import: Back to the motorsports marketing, NOS is known for their drinks, but also their models. What is it that you guys look at when choosing your models? Any advice or words you want to say to the girls out there that want to become a family member of NOS?
Brian (NOS): Just to add to that, I honestly will invite anyone to try out. That’s not to say every girl will make it, but I’ll tell them to get some experience and if the individual has the looks, will look at the personality. NOS energy drink is not all about the outside but inside as well. You’ll need to have the genuine interest in talking and working with people. Our branch is ‘field marketing’ and that’s what we look for. Basically, we’ve had to go with people with a lot of experience and the flavor that NOS Energy Drink prefers. Also, it’s not only models we recruit. There are several different positions opened for males and females. If you love what we do and want to be a part of it, let us know. We welcome everybody. Anybody who wants to try out, I will not turn away. Contact us and we’ll make it happen.
As we all know, NOS plays a major role in being one of the many sponsors for major events.
Night-Import: Is NOS going to have their own event? While we are in the topic of events, what can we expect for Sideway Sundays at Irwindale? There are several meets out there with Food Trucks. How about collaborating with them at meets?
Brian (NOS): We don’t want to focus on one part, such as only drifting or car shows. As of right now, what we do have though, are Drift nights in the in-field at Irwindale. What we are trying to do is to keep things specialized and while talking about Drifting, Sideway Sundays will also consist of the drifting event. The event itself will be around the oval bank of the track area, which will be sort of new and entertaining. Regarding the Food Truck meets, we wanted to go to one but didn’t want to over-commit ourselves. This is why an opportunity like this, talking with someone who is active in the automotive scene, gives us a better idea of where to go and how to do it.
Night-Import: I’ve seen several different private or public companies promoting NOS at events, meets, etc. by passing out flyers and NOS Energy drinks. Is there a certain price that needs to be paid in order to get the products and promote or how does it work?
Brian (NOS): Sometimes that can be done in a fine line. We don’t want to say “I’m here for everybody” and eventually they use and abuse us. We want to know the people who we are working with.
Night-Import: Definitely agree. It’s easier to help out each other because of the trust. In reality, if you get the support, youll support the other as well.
Brian (NOS): That’s true. You help me, I help you. The great thing about being in this industry, especially in the LA market, is that we help out each other. It’s a tight industry.
Night-Import: Everybody thinks that the Import scene is a big, broad community, but in reality, like you said, it’s a tight and small industry. It almost seems to where everybody knows each other somehow.
Brian (NOS): Everybody is like 1 degree apart.
Night-Import: Exactly. You can go to any event and you’re going to meet people you know or the same people you’ve seen before. It’s those same people that create this industry.
Brian (NOS): True. It’s not like ‘I saw you once and Ill never see you again'. Don’t throw anybody off, don’t burn anybody. That's something that a person might find it hard to follow. But if you follow it, and if you think about it, you never know when you might meet somebody.
Night-Import: How does your sponsorship program work? What do you guys look for? Every company looks for something different. What are the qualifications that the individual or team need?
Brian (NOS): There’s definitely too many to mention. But to say the main points; personality, impression, public perspective of that person or team, what could be brought to the table (in terms of vehicles or not), and it’s just being an all around good representative of the brand. Somebody who’s active in the scene and knows people in different parts of the industry will be a plus as well. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t sponsor anybody who is brand new, but that individual or team will need to bring ‘something’ to the table. After all, the products we have are not for free, so it comes down to how well we can support each other.
Night-Import: Tell us how YOU became involved in the motorsports scene and a staff of NOS Energy Drink.
Brian (NOS): Back in the day (middle school), I was a little Poser. I “liked” cars because pretty much everyone else did. I do remember the first import car I’ve seen and genuinely liked it. It was a 2000 Civic Si, red one, sweet looking car. Time went by and next thing you know, D1 Grand Prix came to the US. During the points round, which I believe was in 2003, I went with a bunch of my friends that I still hang around with today, a beautiful hot day, at Irwindale cars drifting, which was a new thing back then. Watching it on Youtube doesn’t do any justice you know? We’re like in the stands goofing around, taking pictures and one of my friends took a picture with Taka Ueno (I love the Vertex kit by the way!). I remember how people came out drifting, especially Rhys Millen because people were booing the American guy and I was booing him too you know? I was just following the crowd but saying to myself “how can you not know this guy?”
Anyways, there was drifting and things were going crazy. Every time when somebody would drift, EVERYBODY stood up, I mean like 8-10 hours, cheering and screaming. And then you have Yasuyuki Kazama coming out and doing rodeo drift and it was crazy! The beautiful s15, a car that I would love to have, but would never get because of the legality, came out and Kazama was smoking the WHOLE track. As he was finishing off, smoke was still rising and that moment and scene changed my life. I really got into cars and till this day, I have a Hachi Roku that I probably spent more money than I should of..
Night-Import: We gotta shoot it .. NOW!
Brian (NOS): NO NO NO. You don’t want to see it!! Haha. (Confidential conversation)
Anyways, ever since then, it was in my mind that I would do something in motorsports. I failed a few times doing my own business. Before I did my own business though, I worked my butt off, sweeping floors, doing whatever it took to learn something. So I worked for a company called Digital Performance and then my buddy called me to ask if I wanted to work as a manager for Norm Reeves being responsible for the motorsports scene. I went there, did what I had to do and one of the tasks was to create meets. I even learned what forums NOT to go on. Shout out to NWP4LIFE by the way. Mad props! Super quality people. Back to the subject, I’ve created couple of shows and meets. The 2nd show I did, ..remember the big fires on the hills and ashes were flying everywhere? Well that happened on the week of my show. I went out there and was looking around and saw all these ashes flying around going on the cars. I was in a hole, thinking what I should do so I called up the manager to find a solution. The manager told me to do whatever I wanted to do, so I hung up the phone and decided to just go on with it. Let me tell you, that was the best show ever with the best turnouts; quality cars and people. I’m glad I didn’t even cancel the show because I didn’t want to let down the ones who were planning to come. They come out on their own dime and represented even in the horrible weather condition. I moved on from there, and my *friend* basically got a job as a district marketing manager for NOS, he’s the man now, and then he knew a little about what we did and wanted a team really quick, which is then when he contacted me to be the marketing lead.
Night-Import: So you do have a pretty experienced automotive background.
Brian (NOS): Everything that fans did, I did. I was out on the track (not drifting), watched, bought EVERY item that came out; JDM air fresheners, just anything! When JGTC came out here, it was phenomenal. My friend and I bought VIP passes to go and see it and when we arrived looking around, we saw, Toshi Hayama (from APEX and JDM Insider) and he was my hero. I got his e-mail somehow back in the days and e-mailed him. Not being gay here, but I was a HUGE fan. I went up to him at the event but he was going away so I called him out “TOSHI!!!! Take pictures with me!!” and Toshi looked back saying he’ll be back. I couldn’t wait and was following him until he took a picture with me. Even keiichi tsuchiya walked pass by us and my friend and I were speechless!
That was a long story, but anyways, that’s my background and how I became involved in the automotive community.
The story of Brian's background was very interesting and to hear what he went through felt as if we took a time machine back to the days when D1 Grand Prix came to the States. A true automotive enthusiast is someone like Brian, having the passion and dedication in the automotive scene.
Night-Import: To conclude this interview, tell us your future plans with NOS Energy Drink.
Brian (NOS): We want to elevate our sales rate, have a good image and conversations with others. In the automotive side, we want to support the grassroots people. People that are making things happen. Blogs, sites, photographers, etc., they do a hell of a job and the ones who own the automotive community. We want to support them in any way that we can. Before I got into this, motorsports was my world. I appreciate how NOS Energy Drinks supports my world. You go to Formula D, there’s Chris Forsberg, a phenomenal driver, and then you have our setups at events such as free giveaways and drinks. We just want to BLOW IT UP! It’s not going to be easy, but will take the steps to make it happen.
I want to thank Brian and all his staffs for participating with our interview session. Make sure to check out NOS at the upcoming drifting event XDC and many more.