I love Coke. Not just for the taste of the product, but for the fact that it is one of the strongest, most powerful brands in the world. I also admire Coke's brilliant marketing campaigns - often, they're some of the best in the industry.
This year, though... I find Coke's advertising campaign obnoxious. You know the one I'm talking about:
Isn't it unhygenic to share drinks anyway?
"Share a Coke with..." has been an immensely successful campaign for Coke. Everywhere you look, people are seeking out cans and bottles of Coke with their name on it. In fact, I'd wager at least one of your friends has uploaded a photo of a bottle of Coke with their name on it to Facebook or another social networking website (because, you know, there are so many alternatives to Facebook). At first I assumed I just needed to get better friends, but today I saw people queuing up at my shopping centre just to get a bottle of Coke with their name on it. Queuing!
You realise, don't you, that when you upload a photo of a bottle of Coke with your name on it you're doing exactly what Coke wants you to do? You are, basically, giving Coke free advertising? In fact, you're giving Coke something more powerful than a free advertisement; you're giving the brand an endorsement.
Alright, now excuse the marketing lesson here, but in the modern world tradition methods of advertising (TV, radio, billboard, newspaper, etc.) are becoming less and less effective at reaching consumers. Part of that is that there is a lot of new media competing for our attention (the internet, video games, tablet computers), but it's also because we're a lot more media-saavy these days. We won't become loyal to a brand just because they had some cool ads on TV, quite often we need some kind of endorsement from a friend before we place our trust in a brand.
Yeah, I know this sounds like a bit of a wank. You're probably sitting there thinking, "I buy what I want, I'm not affected by what other people say!" Well, you are - everyone is, whether they realise it or not. It's human nature to seek aproval for what we do in our lives - our jobs, our hobbies, even what drinks we buy. An endorsement from a friend is exactly what Coke is aiming for in this campaign - and they're getting it whenever you post those photos on Facebook, whether you intend to or not. They want you to do their work for them.
And you're doing it! Can someone please explain to me, what is so thrilling about seeing your name in print? Look, I'll let you in on a secret, if you buy a program called "Microsoft Word" (you may not have heard of it) and you press the buttons on your keyboard in the right order, your name can appear in print, just like that!
All sarcasm aside, you really need to stop doing Coke's job for them. Especially since the campaign itself is so safe, so predictable. All the names on Coke cans are nice, white, Anglo-Saxan names. Where's the can that says Share a Coke with Mohammad? It is, after all, the most popular name in the world at the time of writing.
But you know what the ultimate irony is? I started this rant against Coke with the words, "I love Coke." I've just spent a couple of hundred words discussing Coke's advertising campaign. I've given them an endorsement, of sorts.
© 2011 by The Free Man