How does Coca-Cola continue to be the world benchmark in marketing and advertising? We are going to analyze Coca-Cola’s Marketing and Advertising strategy.
If you have come from some distant planet, know that Coca-Cola is an American beverage company located in Atlanta, Georgia. The formula was created in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton who wanted to create a syrup to combat digestion problems and provide energy. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the drink could be a success. Frank Robinson, his accountant, came up with the Coca-Cola brand and designed its logo.
Two years later, Pemberton died and Asa Griggs Candler bought the formula from his widow for $ 2,300 and established the brand in Atlanta to found The Coca-Cola Company with his brother, John S. Candler and Frank Robinson.
133 years later, the brand is the world dominant, selling more than 1.9 billion drinks a day in more than 24 million points of sale in 200 countries. It currently markets more than 500 brands and 3,500 products. And if that wasn’t enough, the Coca-Cola brand is synonymous with excellence when it comes to applying marketing and advertising to its products. Not surprisingly, 94% of everyone knows the brand and it is the most imitated product in the world.
How has Coca-Cola managed to achieve such brand perception? Today, in our series of marketing and advertising strategies for major brands, we are going to analyze Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy and how it continues to be the world benchmark today.
Coca-Cola’s branding, unalterable for more than 130 years.
You have to start this report knowing the origins of the brand. And it is that the Coca-Cola logo has hardly been changed and remains intact since 1886. Its typography and style are basically due to the fact that at the time it was common to use lettering to highlight your brand in newspapers and magazines. It was created by the accountant Frank Robinson who used the script “Spenciaran” to write the word “Coca-Cola”. Such writing was used in the United States from 1850 to 1925 and was considered the standard writing style for business correspondence before the typewriter was adopted. Little by little the lines were smoothed until they found their final shape, which has seemed unalterable all this time and to which they have only added the red background.
The Coca-Cola bottle, an icon around the world
After establishing the company in Atlanta and defining the logo, the Coca-Cola brand was going from strength to strength. At the time they had more than 1,200 agreements in the United States and imitators began to emerge who wanted to take advantage of the success. Names like Koka-Nola, Ma Coca-Co, Toka-Cola, Koke used similar logos and labels were common. The brand decided to launch a bottle that was impossible to imitate by the competition. According to Harold Kirsch, senior counsel for The Coca-Cola Company in prophetic remarks at a bottlers convention in 1914: “We are not building Coca-Cola just for today. We are building Coca-Cola forever, and we hope Coca-Cola will be the national drink until the end of time. “
We are not building Coca-Cola just for today. We are building Coca-Cola forever.
In 1915 the contest to manufacture the Coca-Cola bottle, valued at 500 dollars of the time, began. The briefing was clear: “To create a bottle so unmistakable that it could be recognized by its touch in the dark or even broken on the ground.” Seven months later, on November 16, 1915, the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute (Indiana) registered the new bottle, called “Contour”. This bottle was created by the Swede Alexander Samuelson and was inspired by the shapes of a cocoa pod, oval and with very characteristic grooves. The logo was integrated into the packaging itself in the form of relief.
A product rooted in popular culture
The Coca-Cola bottle achieved its mission, that of being a product that was very difficult to imitate, and it also achieved another milestone, that of being immediately recognized by the consumer. Little by little, it was permeating popular culture to such an extent that many artists incorporated it into their works. Salvador Dalí was the first to add the bottle to his Poetry of America work, but it was Andy Warhol who catapulted it by using it in his exhibition The Grocery Store.
Maintaining the high standard as a brand
With the help of the Coca-Cola bottle, the company’s efforts focused on maintaining high levels of excellence. The team decided that the drink should be served at 2ºC and sent their sales representatives to tell the retailers that it should never be served above 4ºC. This 2ºC standard positioned the brand as a premium product in the eyes of consumers. Despite this, the price of a Coca-Cola remained unchanged for more than 70 years. From 1886 to 1959 it cost only five cents. These began to be the first steps of Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising actions.
Coca-Cola was a pioneer in placing the brand name on non-product related items. What is known today as merchandising began as a way of taking care of the retailers that sold the product. The company gave away posters, calendars, watches and products to decorate the establishment and also provided other free items designed for customers.
Finally, it was betting on national advertising campaigns with messages such as “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Delicious and Refreshing” in newspapers, walls and billboards. A whole package to remind the consumer that they could buy the drink anywhere and at a very reasonable price.
The Coca-Cola franchise model
One of the most important decisions of the brand had nothing to do with its product. In 1899, two Tennessee attorneys spoke with Candler and asked if they could sell through the Coca-Cola bottle. At that time the drink was sold as a syrup that retailers mixed with soda water, but it was not common to consume it outside the establishment, such as at home. Candler agreed to surrender the bottleneck rights and keep the formula rights. Thus was born the “Coca-Cola Method”.
This method consisted of creating a franchise association with bottlers, which allowed the brand to take off internationally and grow exponentially. It currently has more than 250 independent franchises that bring together more than 900 bottlers around the world. A system of small businesses that nurtures the giant company and in which everyone benefits.
Coca-Cola’s Marketing and Advertising Investment: The Golden Age.
Once the fundamental pillars of the company, an unalterable logo, an iconic bottle, reduced price, creation of merchandising and franchising the bottling of the product were created, the company dedicated itself to growing internationally until becoming the giant that it is today. In 1950 the golden age would begin with an investment in marketing and advertising of Coca-Cola without comparison.
After World War II, the economy was expanding and Coca-Cola invested heavily in advertising, creating the popular “Pin Ups” and their “Have a Coke” message. The image of the archetypal American family had a profound effect on society, not just in America but the rest of the world. Coca-Cola quickly became associated with the “American Way of Life” that had been implemented in Europe.
In the 70s and especially the 80s, Coca-Cola advertising increasingly included celebrities from entertainment and sports, entering an advertising war with Pepsi that delighted lovers of marketing and creativity with advertising campaigns. ingenious and original advertising. Pepsi took the cat to the water with the hiring of Michael Jackson, and a bad advertising strategy of Coca-Cola made the sales go for Pepsi on American soil. This forced Coca-Cola to make a desperate move: Launch New Coke, with a sweeter taste and more similar to Pepsi. The consumer response was angry, demanding the return of the classic Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola’s Marketing and Advertising Strategy Today
The irruption of social networks, smartphones and the paradigm shift in communication created a new type of consumer, more critical and informed, before whom Coca-Cola had to modify the advertising strategy that had given it so much profit.
When the 30-second TV ad format is no longer important in advertising, a lot has changed. Coca-Cola’s new marketing and advertising strategies involved starting a conversation with users, being part of their day-to-day life and generating debate. This approach represented a total paradigm shift from traditional advertising. One that has left many brands behind and has allowed the entry of new ones that have understood the medium.
Today more than ever users are the prescribers of any brand and therefore they must be taken into account. Create a collaborative model that sparks public interest and takes a content-creating approach. The evolution of social media and streamers generates a lot of conversation and brands are continually exposed. Any wrong step can be decisive in ruining your reputation.
Now it is not about selling products, but about generating a brand and creating a significant change in the world to make it better. Coca-Cola realized that its creative excellence for advertising had to be applied at all levels of relationship with the user.
Coca-Cola content marketing
In Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy, content plays a fundamental role. Coca-Cola generates relevant content that is easily viralized; They are usually audiovisual content that create stories and provoke conversation on the networks throughout the year. This content is based on creating contagious ideas that cannot be controlled, and that Coca-Cola has called “Liquid Content”: Ideas relevant to business, brand and user objectives that are linked to each other.
According to the brand: “Liquid Content are content elements that move freely with each other but do not become separate stories, and if they differ a lot from the original story they are like molecules that turn into gas and disappear. Our stories must remain connected for they will be so powerful that they will be able to take life by themselves.”
The conversation model starts with “Brand Stories” that create “Liquid Ideas” that create debate. The brand then acts and reacts to that debate throughout the year, feeding feedback from the community.
Users are also encouraged to generate their own stories related to the brand, which provides an extra creativity that escapes the professionals of the company, and does so in a natural and original way.
The transformation of StoryTelling in content marketing
If there is one thing that is clear about Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy, it is the evolution of Storytelling. In its day we analyzed what storytelling is and how brands had to embrace it in order to connect with the user. This one-way communication is called “One Way Storytelling.” The new paradigm that Coca-Cola proposes is called “Dynamic Storytelling” and is summarized as follows: “Dynamic Storytelling is the development of incremental elements of a brand idea that are systematically dispersed through multiple conversation channels with the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience. The role of content excellence is to behave like a ruthless editor, on the contrary we will run the risk of creating noise, therefore we must develop capacities for the entire Storytelling system. “
To make the so-called “Dynamic Storytelling” specific, Coca-Cola has identified five ways to create stories that can be interesting for the consumer and easily go viral.
Five types of Coca-Cola’s “Dynamic Storytelling”.
Serial: It would be the typical beginning and end story such as audiovisual pieces, advertisements and advertising campaigns.
Multi-Facet: The creation of stories that combines different pieces adapted to each device and that are interrelated to create an immersive experience.
Easily shareable: Creation of content that can be easily shared on different social networks and that takes into account the uniqueness of each medium.
Immersion and discovery: New ways and original experiences that give the community a different way of talking about your product.
Participation: Encouraging consumers to create stories that talk about the brand, their experiences and experiences to share with their followers.
Applying a philosophy of life to Storytelling: “Live Positively”
Coca-Cola’s way of finding what to explain in its stories begins with the BluePrint of each basic product in all the marketing and advertising actions of the brand. Broadly speaking, BluePrint is a visualization tool that details all the elements linked to a brand. Shows visible and non-visible consumer interactions with the product. To each BluePrint, Coca-Cola added the cultural trends of each country and, together with the brand teams, decided what they wanted to tell and how they should tell it to consumers. This provides guidelines and a way forward for the company.
Storytelling is at the heart of all families, communities and cultures
As a leading company, Coca-Cola is aware of the responsibility and opportunity it has to create meaningful change in the world. And these changes happen starting with the philosophy of “Living Positively” being applied across all brand employees, thus creating a positive culture that permeates all departments and, therefore, their relationships with creative collaborators.
How does Coca-Cola create content?
According to the brand: “Content is the creation of stories that can be expressed with every possible connection. Each story must bring value and meaning to people’s lives. Content is the substance of our branded content, which generates interaction and conversation with the brand and therefore must be the most attractive content in the world. “
The fluidity of their ideas are designed so that they cannot do everything. They are collaborative, adaptive and continuous ideas that need other roles to give their best. That’s why they work directly with creative talents, fans of the brand, new collaborators in the creative industry and creative agencies around the world. And, although they all need different processes, they are united by the same principle: Inspire participation among the best, connect these creative minds, share the results of the efforts made and measure success.
The brand becomes a catalyst for the game, in which it encourages courage and brings out the best in those collaborators with whom it works. The brand takes risks and establishes a culture of creativity to continue creating new ideas.
This is how Coca-Cola’s 70/20/10 investment works to create content
The 70-20-10 investment is one of the characteristics of Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising. It is based on the popular formula that is applied in financial market investments, but applied to “Liquid Content”. This means that 70% of the content is considered “Low Risk“, and it is that safe content that provides benefits and allows the remaining formula to be applied. This 70% content should not consume many time resources, so Coca-Cola spends 50% of the time generating it.
20% of the formula is intended to innovate what works. It engages a specific part of the audience but still on a large scale to test new ideas that pass the 10% filter.
10% is considered “High Risk” content. They are new ideas that can become 20% or even 70% of the formula. They are risky and different Coca-Cola advertising and marketing ideas. Most likely, they don’t come to fruition, so they have to be prepared to fail.
Real Magic, the Coca-Cola movement after the pandemic.
The outbreak of the pandemic by Covid-19 altered Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising actions at all levels. From one day to the next, consumer preferences changed and with them the ways of consuming content. New ways of communicating appeared in the market and with them people shared their concerns, fears and fears in the face of the advance of the pandemic. But in the face of desolation, many people chose to see the positive side of things by bringing joy and hope. To do this, they used platforms such as TikTok, which broke into the communication scene to become the most used social network. Or the streaming revolution on Twitch, in which many streamers helped entertain thousands of people who were locked in their homes.
After 18 months of learning the lessons, they unveiled a new global branding philosophy in 2021, a turnaround in Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy. A philosophy called “Real Magic” that invited us to celebrate and recognize the real magic that happens in life. To find the extraordinary in those unexpected and unpredictable moments. To find harmony and connection in a divided and virtual world.
A strategy update
It is the new global platform of the company since 2016 and for this it launched a renewed visual identity. Also a new vision of its logo that would have a prominent role in all marketing and advertising actions of Coca-Cola. For this, he began collaboration with artists, photographers and illustrators to give life to the new concept. According to the brand: “Real Magic is much more than a slogan or a single campaign: it is a brand philosophy, for the long term, that will guide all our marketing and communication actions of the Coca-Cola brand.”
Coca-Cola will use the new platform to embrace streaming and collaborate with the best creators and players on Twitch. This will allow them to find a place in a different reality than the one they have known before, with an ecosystem of unique and appropriate experiences.
Conclusions of Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy
Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising strategy today has shown that content creation is an essential pillar to adapt to the current paradigm. Gone is the golden age of the 80s and 90s and their trade war with Pepsi. Now a 30-second ad campaign is just fireworks; very beautiful and spectacular but that quickly volatilize in the world of streaming. Brands have had to readjust and understand that they must be part of society and play an active role; a constant presence and be a creative catalyst. This is well known to Coca-Cola, which, thanks to its talented company culture, has managed to export its creative excellence to today’s communication needs.
La fórmula secreta de Coca-Cola
Their interpretation of content marketing with “Liquid Content” in the lead. The concept of Dynamic Storytelling applied to the cultures of each country; and the application of the 70-20-10 formula allows them to always be present in the era of Social Media in all corners of the world. All of this would not be possible if Coca-Cola were not a world leading company and could allocate all the financial resources that are needed to carry out its marketing and advertising strategy. It is precisely this pressure to be the number 1 that leads Coca-Cola to measure very well its steps to build a solid, lasting and remarkable brand image.
A requirement that comes from the contest to build their bottle in 1914, which was burned to mark Coca-Cola’s marketing and advertising: “We are not building Coca-Cola just for today. We are building Coca-Cola forever. , and we hope that Coca-Cola will be the national drink until the end of time. “