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Coca-Cola's Wendy Clark Defends 'Crucial' Social Media

Social Plays Role 'at the Heart' of Coke Marketing

Published on .

Wendy Clark
Wendy Clark

Debate erupted Monday when Ad Age reported on a Coca-Cola study concluding that online buzz has no measurable impact on short-term sales. Today Coca-Cola's Wendy Clark, senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities, wrote that the finding is true in isolation but should not obscure the role that social media plays.

Ms. Clark's piece, posted here in its entirety, originally appeared on Journey, a Coca-Cola company website.

Much has been made lately of social media marketing perhaps not pulling its weight in terms of business results. Indeed, a recent study from my own company suggested that social buzz or chatter does not generate sales lift. And, taken in isolation, this is true.

But, today's progressive marketers know better.

None of our plans are simply social, or TV, or mobile or experiential. On the contrary, it's the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections -- with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations -- that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value.

We've known this for some time. Our global toolkit for the London 2012 Olympic Games Move to the Beat campaign, which we activated in more than 110 countries, included 60 different types of content. From our 60-minute documentary on the making of our global anthem with Mark Ronson that we cut into shareable webisodes and mobisodes, to our Beat Maker app, which let consumers create their own beats as ringtones and upload them to the Global Beat on Facebook, all elements were built around the central idea of Moving to the Beat of the London Games, and all were built to be shared easily to drive reach and engagement.

Reach, engagement, love and value are the markers of success we use for our campaigns. We measure these in a variety of ways, often with our media partners. In beta testing with Facebook, we've been able to track closed-loop sales from site exposure to in-store purchase with very promising initial results that are above norms for what we see with other media.

But again, no single medium is as strong as the combination of media. We see this first-hand in our campaigns that integrate TV and social. We know our target consumers -- teens and young adults -- are consuming media on multiple screens in single sessions. This means the TV is on, a laptop is open and a smartphone is in hand. For marketers, this requires having a single, integrated conversation across those screens. When we do this well, we create significantly higher impact than any of those screens could do on their own. Our last two years of results with our Big Game campaigns are great examples of this multi-screen approach and impact.

As it is for all marketers, integrating so many moving parts in real time and with a constantly changing brand dialogue isn't easy. These are new skills and capabilities, and we don't always get it right. But we're trying, we're learning and we're unquestionably committed to continuing the journey of executing wholly integrated campaigns, with social at the heart, to fuel better outcomes and impact for our company.

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