The 56th edition of the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival 2009, took off on June 21, 2009 at the Palais de Festival in the south of France. Unlike some of the other sessions of the day, this one drew a full house. The session was coordinated by Freddie Laker, Director, Digital Strategy, Sapient. The panel comprised officials from the marketing team of The Coca-Cola Company that included Carol Kruse, Vice President, Interactive Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company; Anthony J Phillips, Global Marketing Manager, Consumer Marketing Innovation, The Coca-Cola Company and Miguel Moreno Toscano, Manager, Interactive Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company.
After setting the stage on how social media and non-traditional strategies could be leveraged for connecting with the consumers, Laker invited Kruse to kick off the discussion. If anyone thought India may not be the flavour this year, there was another thought coming in the opening address by Kruse. While stating that there could not be one global approach when it came to something like the mobile medium, Kruse spoke on the mobile scenario in India.
She said, “There are some markets where it is either very difficult or very expensive to execute rich content on the mobile. Mobile in that sense cannot be global – you cannot take one mobile idea and apply to various markets. Keeping that in mind, one initiative that we recently executed in India was Mobile Minutes. It has been such a success that we would be expanding this programme to various other countries.”
She briefly explained the initiative wherein the consumer would get a unique code under the cap of the bottle that he could feed on his mobile, and increase his mobile minutes.
Just Facebook is not enough, think fresh Facebook
Mobile is one part of the interactive initiatives from Coca-Cola. Another part is the web, and social media’s significance in the lives of consumers was discussed again. Kruse also spoke about the Coca Cola fan page on Facebook that was not even created by the company. She said, “It was created by two Coca-Cola fans Dusty and Michael, and the page at present has over 3 million members.
We did not want to take charge of it but Facebook wanted us to. However, even now, and after convincing the senior management that this is a fan page, we do not control the content of the page. Our only role is to ensure that it is a safe page.”
Kruse explained that some of the best work that the company had done in the social media space, including the work done during Olympics, was in China. She said, “During the Chinese New Year, we began a campaign on ‘who are you going to share your first Coke with’ and we had an overwhelming response.”
Toscano also spoke on Facebook as a marketing tool, but was quick to caution that even in these new platforms, innovative and fresh thinking was a must. He spoke on the ‘Burnalterego’ initiative from the company to demonstrate how companies had to work on giving some content to the consumers that would then ensure significant media exposure. He also spoke on another initiative involving footballer Panini and taking the concept of football sticker collection online. He said, “But we did that with a twist. We integrated MSN messenger on the website. We are taking the ‘Happiness Factory’ to the iPhone too.” Laker spoke on the cross-channel experience that this brings to the campaigns.
Interactivity at every level, including on-ground
Interactive is not just mobile and internet, it can even be out of home, and that is what Phillips spoke of. He picked up the ‘Happiness Factory’ initiative from the company, and cited the example of the Coke vending machines. He said, “After the Coke bottles, this is the most visible marketing asset.. The machines at present weren’t doing a good job in communicating the brand personality – frankly some even called it the big red box. We have done something exciting with it, and also incorporated design elements to make that transaction an experience.”
For Phillips, this was one brief he was proud of. He said, “We wanted to move from being a functional red box to a brand experience, from facilitating a transact ion to creating interaction. The company makes approx 1.5 billion servings to consumers every day, and this includes the very sceptical teen audience. You have to go beyond advertising to deliver beyond brand experience to this audience, and that is what gives your brand credibility.”
He informed that these new machines that Coca Cola had designed were three times more expensive but they generated 10 times the revenues. The content of the machines can be customised to mall content, movies content amongst others.
The panel also spoke on whether gaming was one area that could be utilised. Kruse said here, “There may be an opportunity but you have to be sure of it. I would not want an alien on Halo drinking Coke. Whatever, you do, the experience has to be enhanced.”
The panel sure had the chef-d'oeuvre for the festival. The vending machines that the panel spoke of, were a huge source of attraction at Cannes Lions. Coca Cola had placed two machines in the Palais. Once the bottle is retrieved from the machine, the screen on the machine says, ‘The end is only the beginning’.