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Anurag Gupta on how Coke spread happiness in Cannes

20-June-2012
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Anurag Gupta on how Coke spread happiness in Cannes

9:30 AM, first session of the day, after a long night...but the auditorium was full and I barely managed to find a seat. I was eager to hear Joseph Tripodi’s session because over the last few months, The Coca-Cola Company has created quite a buzz. I wanted to learn the secret formula behind Project Connect, Arctic Home, Coke Studio, Song of Optimism and other cool stuff that Coke has been churning out.

I was not disappointed. Tripodi’s session proved that our business could still be charming, simple and fun if we keep it charming, simple and fun. Simple insights, fantastic presentation (kudos to the agency who art-directed it for him) and passionately presented. And everything backed by real work with scale.

He talked about pushing the envelope beyond rational and emotional communication to cultural communication to drive cultural impact. He talked about the power of mob and showed us how Coke has moved from just impressions to impression-expression-conversation-transaction. And for every single reference, there was an example to show that they are really serious about this approach. Each case had scale. They are walking the talk.

It’s easy for us to blame our clients that they don’t get it. May be some don’t, yet. I met many clients at Cannes, and they must have seen Tripodi’s presentation too. He is not the CMO of your neighbourhood library that needs to be saved or chief of a little community that needs a million dollars to have access to safe drinking water. He didn’t even seem like a guy, who will get high on 1 million hits on YouTube or 10 million Facebook fans. He runs one of the most admired brands on the planet. So the ‘clients who don’t get it yet’ must have walked out a little better informed.

After the session, I felt a little nervous. It seems like clients such as Coca-Cola, guys from Facebook, Huffington Post and Guardian and a whole bunch of non-agency types seem to get our business better than us. I have a sneaky suspicion that most of these people have decided to come to Cannes to warn us that we are missing the bus. And this is no ordinary bus – it is turbo-charged one and moving very fast.

Next year, I hope more of us will be there on stage, dazzling the daylights of our clients – the other non-advertising types. It’s our business, it’s our bread and butter and it’s our pride. We don’t want other people to steal that from us, do we?

The author, Anurag Gupta, is Singapore-based lead on Team P&G for WPP. He is a Cannes Lions delegate this year, blogging on the session The Coca-Cola Company – New Rules of Marketing and Consumer Engagement

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