One fine morning students at National University of Singapore woke up to a vending machine with a red and white message saying ‘Hug Me’. Squeezing the sides of the dispenser led to a free Coke coming out. This was the Coca Cola Hug Machine campaign that was a simple idea to spread happiness in an unexpected and innovative way to engage the audience. It left 112 million impressions in one day. There are several examples of the cola giant’s idea of spreading happiness and warmth across the world.
The brand has always taken a ‘Fans First’ approach, where fans have guided conversations, making them a part of the marketing channel. It believes in sharing useful, interesting, compelling and share-worthy content to engage the right customers at the right time.
Wendy Clark, SVP – Integrated Marketing Communications and Capabilities, Coca-Cola believes that the market is dynamic and in order to become successful, a brand has to manage the present and invent the future.
In order to build deeper engagement with consumers, Coke developed the ‘Liquid and Linked’ approach for marketing communications. Liquid because in the changing business scenario, Coca-Cola’s communication must adapt to all and linked because all brand messages should adhere to the overall strategy without depending on the media. According to her, the three areas of focus should be stories, spreading content and creating value. Storytelling is extremely important with the intersection of brand content, experience and conversation to fuel dialogue. Spreading through owned, earned, shared and paid media with social at heart is another focus area. Creating values that transcend the company is equally important.
“The best way to learn is to share,” said Clark. She highlighted eight learnings for brands to generate highest yields and create greater brand engagement. It is important for a brand to embrace the new sales force that is the youth, who are well connected on all the platforms. Music is an important opportunity to connect with the youth and Coke has been using it innovatively.
In this connected world that works in a collaborative framework, she feels that brands cannot work remotely anymore so it is important to listen and engage.
Coke believes in the idea of thinking big, starting small and scaling fast. It has done various campaigns, like the ‘Hug Me’ campaign, that started with a big idea and scaled into one of the most awarded marketing campaigns.
Another important learning highlighted is that speed trumps perfection. She also believes that a brand needs to either disrupt or be disrupted to become a market leader.
In this dynamic environment, any marketer cannot stand still; he/she has to be in constant motion. Hence, she gave the message of not accepting the status quo. She also pointed that if everything else is possible, it is necessary at the behavioural level to play well.
In this vibrant industry that is growing every possible day, it is important for brands to stay true to the brand strategy, engage and create a dialogue to understand the needs in a better way. It becomes crucial to drive the conversation by creating content and sharing stories that are powerful, liquid and linked.