Share a Coke: The Power of a Novel Campaign

 Abimbola Akosile examines a memorable campaign unveiled by Coca-Cola recently to enhance consumers’ physical and visual enjoyment through a personal touch

What is in a name? Some people might be quick to answer in any of the following ways: A name is a powerful piece of who we are; a name is a very personal thing to an individual; a name identifies us, it is the sound we respond to; our name is an invocation of who we are. It is fundamental: it is not all of who we are and yet we are someone quite different when it changes.
   Coca-Cola Nigeria clearly understands the power of a name, judging from the  success  the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign has enjoyed since its introduction in Nigeria, four years after it was originally conceptualised and launched by Coca-Cola Australia.
Not only is Coke pleasing its consumers with this landmark innovation, it also appears to have brilliantly replicated the success story attained in over 70 countries and in the process garnered more loyalty than it has  ever done in recent years.
   Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola’s brand profile has risen consistently locally and globally since the introduction of Share a Coke and other novel ideas. Coca-Cola’s 2014 brand value is estimated at $81.6 billion, up 3 per cent from 2013, more than four times that of the nearest beverage brand on the list. Interbrand credited the 128-year-old brand with “continuing to evolve as markets continue to change, through innovation, staying ahead of trends.”
  Amongst other things, the firm cited the impact of Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke, highlighting its ability to “tap into self-expression and individual storytelling, likewise deepening (the brand’s) connection with individual consumers – particularly Millennials. After launching the Share a Coke campaign successfully, in hundreds of markets, Coca-Cola showed its ingenuity in being able to effectively connect emotionally, both locally and globally” the report stated.
   Share a Coke began in Australia in 2011, when the director of marketing, Coca-Cola South Pacific, Lucie Austin gathered her colleagues inside a Sydney conference room, listening to five agencies pitch concepts for Coke’s next summer campaign. A couple of weeks before, they had received a 151-word creative brief that gave them free reign to deliver a truly disruptive idea that would make headlines and capture the country’s attention.

The resulting campaign, known internally as “Project Connect” was aimed at strengthening the brand’s bond with Australia’s young adults and inspiring shared moments of happiness in both the real and virtual world.
This evolved into Share a Coke, the one -of-a-kind campaign celebrating the power of the first name in a playful, social way by swapping Coke branding on bottles and cans with the most popular monikers in Australia. The stunt worked. Share a Coke became an instant hit.
   That year, Coca-Cola sold more than 250 million customized bottles and cans in Australia – a nation of just under 23 million people. Naturally, the campaign made its way around the world.  Not long after the success story in Australia, Coca-Cola teams in Great Britain, Turkey, China, and the United States – put their own creative spin on the concept, while preserving the simple invitation to “Share a Coke with (insert name).”

Four years after, the Share-a–Coke train arrived in Nigeria in early January. Just before the campaign kicked off, the iconic brand, understanding the dynamism of Africa’s most populous country, strategically selected 600 of the most popular names from the array of names across the various regions of Nigeria which were emblazoned on the various Coca-Cola pack types.
   Sensitive to the fact that some rare indigenous names had been left out during the selection process, Coca-Cola created a virtual portal where Nigerians can create and share Coke bottles with their favourite names.
   To further ensure that no one is left out, the company also launched an experiential campaign in February, creating an opportunity in various neighbourhoods for those who could not find their names to order and receive on the spot customised Coke bottles with any names they desire at just N100 per bottle – same as the retail price of the product.
   The personalised labels, now allow people buy cans with their own names and those of their family, friends and loved ones, translating into a sharp rise in sales for the company.

Speaking on the recent strides of Coca- Cola Nigeria and the contribution of the Share a Coke campaign, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited Patricia Jemibewon, said the response to the initiative has exceeded the company’s expectations.
    “The personalised bottles have been highly sought after nationwide, so demand is very high. We are therefore taking Share-a Coke to the customers directly at various locations, where consumers can get a rare opportunity to watch the customising of a can of Coke.” Jemibewon said.

“Share-a-Coke recognises Nigeria’s culture and diversity. The campaign reinforces our ongoing commitment to refresh the world and inspire shared moments of optimism and happiness”, she concluded.
Indeed, Share a Coke has transformed the global Coca-Cola brand into a special, personal experience for Nigerians- connecting Coca-Cola with consumers, helping families deepen their bond and spreading love among friends.

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