Coca Cola – Global Marketing Communications

The Coca-Cola brand has been ranked by Interbrand as the world’s most valuable at $77,839 million.  But what has lead to the creation of such a strong brand?

It would be next to impossible to name one reason for this; however, as suggested by Interbrand, the Coca-Cola corporation has managed to consistently strike a balance between leveraging the traditional values associated with the drink and supporting this with innovative marketing campaigns.

Heinz has also grown its brand through a very similar method: strong heritage, augmented by exciting campaigns and new products.

The latest innovation from Coca-Cola is the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign that has recently launched in the United Kingdom (U.K.). The said campaign entails bottles and cans being printed with customer names in place of the traditional Coca-Cola logo.  The aim of this is to primarily to engage consumers in the brand, particularly through social media.

Customisable Coke Can

Regarding social media, consumers are encouraged to share their bottles digitally on Twitter using the hastag ‘ShareACoke’ or through the ‘Share a Coke’ Facebook app.  The latter allows consumers to create their own digital bottle and share it with friends (see below).  Furthermore, kiosks, in town centres and shopping malls, will be created to allow consumers to create their own custom cans or bottles, in the case that their name is not one of the one hundred and fifty being mass-produced.


While the same programme has already been a success in Australia and New Zealand, will simple a ‘copy and paste’ of the campaign work for the U.K. market?  I think for the most part, it will.  However, despite  the below video giving the impression of an unqualified success there is not such thing as a perfect campaign…

Some marketers (see comments section) have criticised the campaign for simply being ‘lame’, while others – more constructively – allude to the idea being too novel.  As Coca-Cola Great Britain managing director, Jon Woods, identifies, there is an inherent risk of replacing the brand name.  According to Kotler’s model of a ‘product’, a given product is composed of not just the tangible item that is purchased, but also intangible benefits, such as branding.

Therefore, for this campaign to be a success, the increase in consumer engagement – generated by featuring a name on the product – needs to off-set the decrease in brand-derived benefits – lost via the removal of the ‘Coca-Cola’ logo.

Hence, given the power of a brand, particularly one of this statue, to influence consumer consumer behaviour this truly is a risky decision.

Additionally, I believe that the campaign’s call-to-action is rather weak.  Namely, it is a bit ambiguous whether you are supposed to buy a drink for yourself – with your own name on it – or a drink for a friend – with their name on it.

On this point, there may be a missed opportunity here to try and promote non-digital sharing.  Perhaps there could have been a multi-buy offer to support the campaign?  Such an offer might have re-enforced the encouragement to buy a drink for friends, rather than purely rely on the novelty of the campaign.

One last piece of criticism I have is regarding Jon Woods’ claim that ‘no other brand has gone to this level of personalisation’.  In fact, as you can read here, Starbucks has already used a very similar tactic on a global scale.

Share a Coke Facebook App

I think, simply, the question boils down to: ‘Do people care about having a name on a product?’.  In New Zealand and Australia this was a resounding ‘Yes’. As these markets are similar, the campaign will probably be replicated successful in the U.K.; consumers are starting to share their drinks over Twitter.

There is one final issue I will briefly touch upon.  Namely, will more and more companies start replicating national campaigns from one region into another?  To an extent this might be seen as a cost-effective way to ‘think globally, act locally’ and customise global campaigns more efficiently.

What do you think: will the campaign work and  will more corporations start to replicate national campaigns in several regions?

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 05/05/2013

Compare the Market- Diverse Marketing

VCCP, the marketing agency behind Compare the Market‘s hugely successful meerkat marketing campaign, knows modern brands are built through using various promotional channels. Lord Bell – Chairman of Chime Communications, VCCP’s parent company – said in The Times: “The ability to deliver one hit wonders has gone… You need to go through a wide variety of channels”. Everyone is familiar with the above-the-line T.V promotions, but what other channels have been used to create a famous Russian meerkat persona called Aleksandr Orlov, who has increased brand awareness from 20% to 59%?

Compare the Market’s £15 million annual marketing budget was outsourced to VCCP, who launched a gimmick website to satire the confusion over brand recognition of the numerous price comparison websites – a drawback of operating in a monopolisitically competitive market. Although T.V advertisements promoted the websites, Compare the Market gained their competitive advantage through extending their promotional mix even further.

The use of social media and online downloads, for instance, shows the benefits of using a diverse approach to marketing, albeit the return on investment is nearly impossible to measure; but it is the qualitative benefits that is the essence of creative marketing. At the time of writing Aleksandr Orlov has 758,613 fans on Facebook, 1,485,287 views on Youtube, and 40,091 followers on Twitter – these are people who have voluntarily chosen to be subjected to marketing – which fits into Seth Godin’s ‘Permission Marketing’ theory. Hence, the best marketing involves customers consent, and therefore trust is built: customer relationship marketing in turn creates brand loyalty that encourages Compare the Market users to try out new features, which makes diversification easier.

Moreover, merchandising of the Aleksandr Orlov has been astonishingly successful. 5000 limited edition toy models of the meerkat were sold exclusively at Harrods, who themselves have developed a premium reputation: a paradoxical, but effective, use of distribution channels meant that all toys were quickly sold out. Now on ebay, the asking price for one of the official toys is often more than double the £19.95 RRP. Additionally, visitors to the parody Compare the Meerkat website can download ringtones, voicemail messages and desktop wallpaper backgrounds and even watch Aleksandr Orlov in several ‘films’.

So although the meerkat’s catch-phrase ‘simples’ is representative of Compare the Market‘s ethos and website, it could not be more of an antithesis of its marketing strategy.

© Joshua Blatchford author of Manifested Marketing 13/08/2010

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