It’s actually kind of embarrassing to admit that after the heap of responses from the marketing world including, cough, AdWeek, I have only recently become aware of Coca-Cola’s infamous obesity campaign from an article in the opinion section of the NY Times.
Self-reproach aside, here’s my two cents.
The issue with this video, apart from using blatant manipulation, is that the brand is confusing the attributes of Coca-Cola the product with the values of the Coca-Cola company. This is probably because the company that owns Coca-Cola – as well as a huge chunk of the bottled beverage industry – never invested in developing a distinct brand image from its hero product.
Developing a clear and distinct brand is essential if a company with several sub-brands wants to embark in a marketing strategy. This has to go beyond simple logo and graphics, which Coca-Cola (the company) does not do. It has to be ingrained in their brand architecture and reinforced in all of their actions. It should guide which products to invest in and where their R&D money goes.
Without a clear brand architecture, there is no chance of a company making a statement without confusing the audience. Besides selling bottled consumer products, I cannot think of any cohesive attributes to give a company that manufactures products as vastly different as Coca-Cola, Minute Maid and Vitamin Water.
To illustrate my point, think of P&G’s tear-inducing commercials for the Olympics. It is immediately clear that this is a company that knows who they are (a benevolent developer of quality products for the home) and what their focus is (helping moms). For this reason, their commercials are compelling and, most important, credible.
So, readers, what do you think about this Coca-Cola fiasco? Is it worse than when they changed the secret recipe?
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