Coca-Cola uses its bottle to drive social media engagement

by Nigel Hollis | July 06, 2015

Many brands have used their own packaging as a media channel, but Coca-Cola stands out as one that has done so successfully and on a repeated basis. The lure of seeing one’s own name on the iconic bottle has proved irresistible to millions around the world, but in China they are exploring new ways of using Coca-Cola’s pack to drive social engagement.

The ’Share a Coke’ campaign originated in Australia and has now been used in over 80 countries worldwide. You can read how the original idea was resulted from a need to inspire a “mass reappraisal” of the Coca-Cola brand among Australian consumers here and the resulting campaign was incredibly effective. The award winning Australian Effie paper reports that Coca-Cola increased volume by 4 percent in a down market and grew young adults' consumption by 7 percent. In BrandZ we observed Coca-Cola not only grew its salience (already huge) but grew perceived differentiation as well.

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Just as the Share a Coke campaign has spread round the world, so too has it evolved. In China the iconic bottle has now featured internet nicknames, music lyrics from popular Chinese songs and now, in the latest incarnation, famous movie quotes. The Internet nicknames helped raise volume sales by 20 percent after two years of decline, and the music lyrics campaign was so popular that it raised volume a further 10 percent in 2014.

The lyric campaign was particularly notable because people could scan the bottle and then listen, watch and share the related MusiconTM with others (sorry, no movie clips this year, the rights are too expensive). The lyric campaign puts the brand front and center as a media channel to spark interest and engagement. Once you have shared your emotions using a MusiconTM you are probably going to want to do it again, and once you have bought the bottle, it is easy and fun to do. Social media is huge in China, so too is Coca-Cola, so with the right idea the campaign is bound to get traction.

Of course, the big challenge for most brands is that they are neither iconic nor widely used. That alone puts them on the back foot when it comes to using packaging or social media to promote the brand. When asked in the interview what he would do differently when creating the original Share campaign Jeremy Rudge (creative excellence lead) states,

“We’d probably spend a fraction of what we spent on TV… There is still a belief in the marketing world that you need to spend big on media to make sure people see your ideas, but “Share a Coke” proved that you can focus your resources on building ideas people want.”

That’s certainly true of a brand like Coke but it is not true of most brands. You might not use TV but you certainly need to amplify any social engagement with other media to ensure it reaches as wide an audience as possible.

So what do you think is critical to the success of campaigns like these? Please share your thoughts. 

4 comments

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  1. Shweta Singhal , July 09, 2015
    Their recent campaign in Middle East where the can appeared with no name is fabulous. This was done to promote the social message that we should not get prejudiced or biased based on appearances. Labels are for cans not for humans.
  2. Cherice Landers, July 07, 2015
    Coke is one brand that has consistently been brilliant at executing unique strategies in non-traditional ways. I believe that deep insights are essential to the success of campaigns like these. Instead of focusing on big spend on traditional channels, brands should rather focus on creating communication strategies that are driven by deep insights that have the ability to evoke emotion and become memorable. Push communication is outdated, user generated content and engagement are essential going forward.
  3. Samraggi, July 07, 2015

    I am not a very big fan of soft drinks , however with a fork in hand at a restaurant , my choice always has been Coke. Taste being a primary decider , is very closely followed by the way its presented across media. 

    I feel when a consumer wants to decide on trying out a particular brand , the biggest impact on his decision is that of the connect which the brand creates with his mind. Since ages Coca Cola has managed to create that magic with its campaigns. Lets say with the fastfood generation booming, showing the Coke being as the ultimate drink to go with Pizza , has been a great way to induce the youth to go order a bottle of Coke over any other soft drinks.

    Happiness opens with a bottle of Coke. Such taglines always hits right at top of our decision making brain cells especially cos Food is one of our ways to celebrate and happiness and celebration always go hand and hand. 

    I feel whenever a campaign manages to get the consumer relate the product to times of Happiness , celebration , it always has a big impact on his mind.

  4. Daren, July 07, 2015
    The Coke bottle is an amazing asset and 'share a Coke' is definitely a strong idea.  A silver lion was awarded in the media category at Cannes for 'the world's first fully personalised TV campaign': a small glimpse of what the future could hold in terms of personalised creative.  While there is a risk that being too personalised could be perceived as invasive or creepy, using someone's name seems not to overstep the mark. http://www.canneslionsarchive.com/winners/entry/586578/the-worlds-first-fully-personalised-tv-campaign

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