Connecting through Coca-Cola
In its traditional form the word social is defined as “relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.” However, since the advent of social media networks, we have all come to think of “social” in an entirely new light; now being social is often a measure of how we communicate behind screens with @mentions and hashtags rather than engaging in old-fashioned, face-to-face dialogue. As one of the largest, most recognizable brands in the world, Coca-Cola has been a force in the brand social media space with 2.6 million followers on Twitter and 87 million Facebook fans*, coca cola relies on this new wave of social interaction to relay their products, brand messaging and establish on-going engagements with fans. Despite their success from behind desktop and mobile screens, this summer, Coca-Cola decided to take a social step back.
Starting with their Everyone’s Invited World Cup Campaign, Coca-Cola’s sponsorship at the tournament signified an inclusive and in-person approach to content marketing at the tournament. As an official FIFA partner, Coca-Cola wanted to bring the global audience to the games and vice-versa. With the short film, One World, One Game as the marquee component of the brand campaign, Coca-Cola sent the message that they wanted audiences to emerge from behind their screens and unify and socialize through a common bond of love of the game. The campaign spotlights the differences among global communities while underlining their similar love for the game – indicating that football can truly serve as a human connector.
Off the heels of successful World Cup play, Coca-Cola kept the community love flowing with the introduction of their #ShareaCoke campaign. Not only did this campaign rely on social media networks, in particular Twitter and Instagram, encouraging users to upload photos of their Coke bottles, tag their friends and use the branded hashtag #ShareaCoke, but this campaign also marked a milestone transition for the brand as they successfully managed to bring online social campaigns into the offline world. On their bottles, Coca-Cola replaced their namesake in favor of 250 of the most popular names, written in traditional Coca-Cola font of course. The company encouraged customers to pay it forward, and buy the personalized cans for friends and family. While critics may have initially brushed off the campaign as a gimmick, it has successfully resonated with a younger generation that is inherently drawn to customization and personalization. Millennials have come of age in an era where unique messaging and personalization is the expectation, thanks to advances in social and digital media. Coca-Cola capitalized on an opportunity to take social customization offline and into the real world. They are connecting with younger customers on a more personal level; speaking the language they speak through hashtags and photo uploads, while encouraging real face-to-face socialization driven by their personalized products.
While the brand has made significant strides in encouraging its customers to revert back to real social interactions, they are not abandoning the power of online social networks. Coca-Cola cannot produce personalized cans and bottles forever, but customer excitement and engagement has encouraged the brand to facilitate new Coca-Cola experiences in an on and offline social world. Taking a page out of Starbucks’ book, Coca-Cola is encouraging fans to “Tweet a Coke” to their friends. Coca-Cola has aligned with Regal Cinemas and for $5, Twitter users can Tweet a Coke by tweeting a link to their friends to reimburse at a Regal Cinema Theater. While this is not as buzzy or exciting as seeing personalized products, Coca-Cola is reiterating the message that they are nothing without their community of customers. Each unique campaign this summer has been a celebration of community and the power of connection. Coca-Cola is a highly emotional brand for many consumers as people of all generations have distinct memories and connections tied to Coke products. Through social media, and social interactions of all types, Coca-Cola is reinvigorating community support and brand engagement.