Since debuting "Open Happiness" seven years ago, Coca-Cola has used the lofty, ideals-based campaign to promote everything from anti-bullying to peaceful co-existence among Indians and Pakistanis. But to new global Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto, the campaign became just a little bit too preachy. And it failed to hammer home more simple pleasures, like enjoying an ice-cold Coke on a hot day.
So in the first big move under his watch, Coke is closing down "Open Happiness." A new global campaign called "Taste the Feeling" will put the product at the center of every ad as Coke seeks to win over more drinkers in the struggling soda category. And in a major strategic shift, Coke will adopt a "one-brand" approach that will unite multiple varieties like Diet Coke and Coke Zero in a single campaign, rather than running disparate spots.
Coca-Cola executives are expected to annouce the campaign today in Paris as ads begin rolling out across the more than 200 countries where Coke is sold.
Before leaving for Europe, Mr. de Quinto previewed the strategy to Ad Age in an interview at Coke's Atlanta headquarters last week. It marked his first U.S. media interview since taking the marketing helm a year ago, following 14 years leading Coca-Cola's Iberia business unit, which covers Spain and Portugal.
The de Quinto era begins
While he has been working in the background for months, today's campaign launch marks the beginning of the de Quinto marketing era at Coke. It comes in the wake of the departure of high-profile North American marketing executive Wendy Clark, who also held a global role during her tenure. Along with former global CMO Joe Tripodi, Ms. Clark oversaw "Open Happiness," which debuted in 2009 and often took on big societal issues, like last year's "Make it Happy" Super Bowl ad that focused on online bullying.
In the interview, Mr. de Quinto spoke passionately about taking Coke in a new, more humble direction. Ads will use the kind of emotional storytelling long-associated with Coke. But they will depict everyday moments, like a first date, and put Coke bottles front and center. The new campaign is "going back to the core values of Coca Cola," he said. "We have been just talking about the brand, but talking very little about the product."
Coke had "started to talk in a preachy way to people. And Coca-Cola has always been a simple pleasure," he added. "The bigness of Coca-Cola resides in this humbleness, in its simplicity." But the "more that we tried … to preach to the people, the smaller we made it."
Mr. de Quinto was joined in the interview by another exec who will be key to Coke's new direction -- Rodolfo Echeverria, a longtime Coke employee who last January was named global VP for creative, connections and digital. Prior to that promotion, Mr. Echeverria served as VP-marketing in Latin America. Coke no longer wants to be about "fixing happiness" with "high-level" ideas, Mr. Echeverria said. Rather, the new campaign is "very much about living in the intimacy and simplicity of … moments." He referenced a classic tagline -- "Have a Coke and a Smile" -- as a symbol of the brand's new direction.
Watching the waves
Setting an enormous brand like Coke on a new marketing course is a massive undertaking and comes as the brand battles category headwinds, most notably declining soda consumption amid growing health concerns. While Coke remains the top soda brand in the U.S., it eked out just 0.1% volume growth in 2014, while Diet Coke volume fell 6.6%, according to the latest full-year data available from Beverage Digest. For the third quarter of 2015, the company reported 1% global growth in the Coca-Cola trademark, including 1% growth for brand Coke, 8% growth for Coke Zero and an 8% drop for Diet Coke.
Last March, soon after Mr. de Quinto had taken the reins, Coke invited 10 of its roster agencies to pitch ideas for a global campaign, signaling change was coming. The four shops taking a lead role on "Taste the Feeling" are: Ogilvy New York, Sra. Rushmore of Madrid, Santo of Buenos Aires and Mercado-McCann of Argentina.
The initial round of work created by the four shops includes 10 TV ads, as well as digital, print, out-of-home and shopper marketing. Mercado-McCann created the lead TV spot called "Anthem" (above) that puts Coke at the center of ordinary moments like a first kiss and ice-skating with friends. The soundtrack features the voice of rising pop star Conrad Sewell who belts out lines like "we can watch the waves, have a Coke and just sit here beside me." Ads will include a new audio signature that includes sounds like ice fizzing and a quenching sip.
Roster shop The Cyranos-McCann of Barcelona made one of the 10 TV spots. And Ogilvy created one TV ad that includes a cover of the Queen and David Bowie song "Under Pressure" that showcases Coke as a way to release everyday tensions faced by teens. Ogilvy also is behind a digital activation that allows users to insert three-second GIFs from a Coke microsite into social media to express feelings like refreshed, energized and bubbly.
Coca Cola has been part of popular culture for over 100 years and has been called a “Vision Brand“.
Its marketing and communication is purposeful and connects with its audience in a way that makes it stand out from its competitors.
Its mission is not about selling products but to create significant positive change in the world that makes the world a better place.
Coca Cola’s mission statement
- To refresh the world
- To inspire moments of optimism and happiness
- To create value and make a difference
Recently they have realised that their marketing strategy that has worked well for them for decades needed to evolve and as such they are moving from “Creative Excellence” to “Content Excellence”
Creative excellence has always been at the heart of Coca Cola’s advertising and they have decided that content is now the key to marketing in the 21st century on a social web.
Content for Coca Cola is is now the “Matter” and “Substance” of “Brand Engagement”
So what can we learn from Coca Cola’s new marketing strategy?
Lesson 1: Create Liquid Content
The purpose of content excellence is to create “Ideas” so contagious that they cannot be controlled this is what is called “liquid content”.
On a social web people can easily share ideas, videos and photos on social networks such Facebook.
So create content that begs to be shared whether that be an image, a video or an article.
Lesson 2: Ensure your Content is Linked
The next part of the equation is to ensure that these ideas create content that is innately relevant to
- The business objectives of your company
- The brand
- Your customer interests
This is “Linked” content…. Content that is relevant and connected to the companies goals and brand.
Ensure that the content communicates your message that is congruent with your mission and values.
Lesson 3: Create Conversations
Coca Cola has realised that the consumer creates more stories and ideas than they do so the goal is provoke conversations and then “Act” and “React” to those conversations 365 days of the year.
The new “Distribution Technologies” of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook provide greater connectivity and consumer empowerment than ever before.
Don’t just publish but interact with your audience and tribe.
Lesson 4. Move onto Dynamic Story Telling
On traditional media in the past, story telling was static and a one way street. Television and newspapers shouted at you with no means of interaction.
Coca Cola has come the realisation that to grow their business on the social web they need to move on from “One Way Story Telling” to “Dynamic Story Telling”
This means you need to allow the story to evolve as you interact and converse with your customers. You need to converse with your customers in many media formats and social networks.
Storytelling has moved on from static and synchronous to multifaceted, engaged and spreadable.
Lesson 5: Be Brave and Creative with Your Content Creation
Part of the new Coca Cola content strategy is applying a 70/20/10 Investment principle to creating “Liquid content“.
- 70% of your content should be low risk. It pays the rent and is your bread and butter marketing (should be easy to do and only consumes 50% of your time)
- 20% of your content creation should innovate off what works.
- 10% of your content marketing is high risk ideas that will be tomorrows 70% or 20%…. be prepared to fail
This provides a blueprint regarding moving on from just developing white papers, to trying some content that is more visual, courageous and engaging in web world that has embraced multimedia and interactive content.
The 30 Second TV Ad is no Longer King
Coca Cola has come to the conclusion that the world has moved on from the 30 second TV ad. So has the the Old Spice brand and many other businesses who are embracing social media as part of their marketing strategy.
We need to move towards a genuine consumer collaboration model that builds buzz and adopts a more iterative approach to content creation.
Learning how to fuel the conversations, act and interact has never been more important.
Consumers ideas, creativity and conversations have been set free with the evolution of social networks, learning to leverage and wrangle those conversations to increase your brand visibility is now a vital part of your marketing.
What About You?
Do you create conversations with your marketing? How many people are talking about your stories on Facebook?
Is your content liquid, linked and multi-faceted?
Image by KB35