Ethical Marketing: Coca Cola
In a world dominated by constant advertising across multiple platforms, brands are under increased pressure to promote their products responsibly. This week we will be looking at the world of ethical marketing and a number of household brands who have proved that marketing and ethics can go hand in hand.
Today it is the turn of Coca-Cola, who over the past few months have run a high profile summer campaign with the tagline “Share a Coke”. This has proved an enormous success, with personalised Coke cans rolled out worldwide as an extension of the wider Coca-Cola marketing strategy of Open Happiness, which “encourages customers to share a moment of happiness with friends, family and loved ones”. Not only has the Share a Coke campaign proved successful across a number of key platforms, the initiative has taken on a momentum of its own as social media has seen people of all ages scrambling to get hold of a personalised Coke can and share this find with their followers.
In the last few months, Coke sharing has reached new levels with the creation of shareable Coca-Cola. As Chief Creative Officer Eugene Cheong observed, the only element of the Coca-Cola brand that consumers were unable to share was the actual can of Coke. This slight drawback has now been resolved as part of the summer campaign with the creation of a Coca Cola can which can be twisted, turned and split in half to share between friends. This innovative and novel idea has further increased the popularity of Share a Coke and has contributed to the overall success of the campaign and the brand as a whole.
This is not, however, the only angle of the “Share a Coke” campaign. Despite the apparent marketing and profit benefits which can be associated with the huge success of Coca-Cola, a perhaps less-documented but equally interesting facet of the Share a Coke campaign has been its ethical message. The key values behind the Coca-Cola brand include optimism, social spirit and humanity, all of which have been captured by this notion of sharing the product.
These values have been epitomised by the “Coca-Cola Small World Machines”, which has seen Coca-Cola vending machines dispatched to India and Pakistan. Despite sounding somewhat menial, these are no ordinary vending machines – they act as a digital portal, allowing people on both sides of the India-Pakistan border to see and interact with their neighbours and Share a Coke together. The rationale behind the idea is ‘to break down barriers and create a simple moment of connection between two nations”; which given the long history of conflict and tension between the two nations is a noble and innovative take on a historically difficult regional tension.
A video of the reactions has been created, showing local people getting involved and really embracing the concept; the video is both emotional and demonstrates the simplicity in the Coca-Cola message of bringing people together and overcoming social and cultural boundaries. The initiative demonstrated that whatever the differences between the two countries, the people themselves share a number of common interests, whether that be food, Bollywood films or sport there are a wealth of possibilities for social interaction and understanding.
Naturally a high-level of cynicism is apparent from some commentators who claim that whatever the underlying message of campaigns like Share a Coke, these are still hard-line advertising platforms for the brand and attempts to drive sales. However, Coca-Cola has to be admired for their continued portrayal of simple and ethical values, and the efforts they have made through the Share a Coke campaign to overcome cultural differences and tensions, not only in India and Pakistan but worldwide.
If you haven’t seen the Small World Machine’s, just follow the link here.