Coke’s brilliant marketing has YOUR name on it!

Let’s just be clear. It’s not just any Coke. It’s YOURS. So, lips off!

Let’s just be clear. It’s not just any Coke. It’s YOURS. So, lips off!

They got us… hook, line and sinker.

My wife and I were standing in Walgreens, at a Coca-Cola® kiosk, frantically looking through all the bottles for the names of family and friends. We found a bunch—even my nephew’s name, who is a Marine out in California, and spells it K-R-I-S. My wife immediately took a shot of it and posted it on Facebook.

Kris Coke And at that moment, I realized just how powerful this campaign was.

What I’m referring to, of course, is this summer’s Share a Coke® campaign. Launched for the first time in the U.S. this year, Share a Coke has been a sizable success in more than 50 other countries (the company started the campaign in Australia two years ago).

Here’s the campaign, in a nutshell:

  • Coke removed—yes, removed—the logo from its 20 oz. bottles and replaced it with the most popular 250 first names of American teens and millennials. The iconic Coke curve and red color still adorn the bottles, so you know for sure it’s the brand.
  • For larger 1.25- and 2-liter bottles, Coke replaced the logo with fun, general names like “grillmaster,” “BFF,” “Family,” and “Legend,” among a slew of others. Twelve-ounce cans will have these fun names, too (“Wingman” was my favorite).
  • Fans can visit to personalize virtual bottles and share them on social media.
  • If consumers use the hashtag #ShareaCoke to share photos or stories, they have a shot at being featured on interactive billboards across the country.
  • There’s a direct response component to all this, too. On fountain dispensers’ touch screens will be a QR code—scan it with your phone, and you’ll send a friend a coupon for $1 off a 20 oz. bottle of Coke.
  • There will be a cross-country Share a Coke tour, with kiosks where fans can customize a mini Coke can for themselves and a friend. (This is for all the folks who can’t find their name among the 250 mass-produced Cokes.)

Something, huh?

The campaign will run through August, and early numbers show a pretty big hit for the red titan of brands.

My wife and I first saw this campaign in an email a few months back. Friends of ours from Norway sent pictures of their personalized Coke bottles. I thought that it was only a European effort—smaller population, more manageable, etc. I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed, when they rolled it out in the U.S.

According to a statement from Coke, the campaign was designed to put a “youthful spin on this long-established brand.” Stuart Kronauge, senior vice president, stated that “for teens and millennials, personalization is not a fad, it’s a way of life. It’s about self expression, individual storytelling and staying connected with friends.”

Yes, indeed.

This campaign, to me, reveals a lot about marketing today. Just like institutions often lead the way in society, the big brands often blaze trails in marketing. They have the money, the bandwidth, the creative firepower, and the reach to pull it off. Here’s what this campaign tells me…

> Coke did its homework. Talk about understanding what turns a market on! The company’s press release statement of “self expression, individual storytelling and staying connected with friends” says it all. (Selfie anyone?!?)

> It taps into everyone’s inner narcissist. One of the oldest methods of persuasion calls on you to use people’s names. To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, “people love the sound of their own names.” Well, here we have a major worldwide brand putting YOUR NAME in place of its own iconic logo. That’s powerful. And it tells you how it’s all about the consumer.

> They truly engaged people! Folks are buying the bottles for themselves… for friends… loved ones… and Marine nephews. They’re sharing the bottles on social media. They’ll attend the roadshows and get more personalized stuff. This goes beyond just being fun—they’re actually owning the brand, being ambassadors for it, and feeling like they belong to something. This summer, with all these advocates running around promoting the brand, it’s like Coke increased its sales force by millions.

> They made the campaign native. By that, I mean that the concept works across different mediums, seamlessly. Most consumer package goods companies would have stopped at the personalized bottles. Not Coke. They figured out how to take the concept of sharing across the web, in person, in the store, using the smart phone and more. Brilliant.

This upcoming July 4, we’re planning a pretty massive picnic and BBQ with family and friends. No doubt, there will be a cooler filled with personalized Coke bottles for loved ones to enjoy.

Hook, line and sinker…

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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