Coca-Cola taps local pleasures to push Classic

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Coca-Cola Co. wants consumers, from Boston to Bangladesh, to enjoy seeing themselves in new advertising for Coca-Cola Classic.

TV spots, print ads and radio jingles that break in the U.S. this week incorporate a new tagline, "Coca-Cola. Enjoy," and a stronger emphasis on creative tailored to regional and international markets.

In addition to the initial round of work from Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, and Edge Creative, Santa Monica, Calif., other roster shops for the beverage marketer will develop adaptations that "in local country terms reflect a deeper understanding of the human condition," said Ian Rowden, VP-director of worldwide advertising.

The campaign's music will extend a similar "Enjoy" melody, to 19 versions created along genres as varied as reggae, techno, hip-hop and country. Ads will tailor the music genre to connect with demographic and regional preferences.

VARIED ENJOYMENT

The six print ads created by Burnett for the U.S. all use a template that depicts a contour bottle out of which comes a spray of Coke bubbles and a cap that says simply, "Enjoy." Images placed in the center of the bubbling beverage show ways in which people can enjoy life and will be varied based on local preference.

Shots will be inserted into national TV commercials to tailor them according to region.

At least one marketing expert believes the approach makes sense.

"If we can see a little piece of ourselves for a few seconds on the screen, that's got real power," said Diane Cook-Tench, director of the Adcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Coca-Cola wanted to ensure individual markets could easily adapt the new overall theme. To do so, local and international ad agencies were brought into the creative process early enough to plan work that would augment the global campaign.

Currently, Mr. Rowden said, Publicis is in production with two or three concepts approved for Europe; McCann-Erickson Worldwide has a spot in Hong Kong; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Burnett have created spots in China; and McCann has one in Australia. That, together with the efforts of Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., for soccer and the Olympics, and Christmas-themed work from Doner, Southfield, Mich., will make up the bulk of the campaign in 2000.

A second round will be created at midyear.

The directive from Coke headquarters to its roster of agencies was to "reconnect people to the feeling of drinking a Coca-Cola," said Whit Friese, creative director at Burnett.

LIKE KISSING, DANCING, SHARING

National TV spots--four by Burnett and six by Edge Creative--liken sipping a Coke to kissing a girl, tasting a snowflake, sharing good times with friends, dancing in a crowd and riding a waterfall, among other pleasures.

Movie directors such as John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") and Kinka Usher ("Mystery Men") were brought in to impart "more emotion, more drama and the feeling of involvement that you get from a movie," said Mr. Friese.

Through the new ads, "Coke isn't selling a product as much as life's good experiences packaged in a bottle," said Ms. Cook-Tench.

Reconnecting with consumers is imperative, as the Coca-Cola Classic brand has dipped slightly in market share over the last few years, falling to 20.6% of the U.S. soft-drink market vs. 20.7% in 1997 and 20.8% in 1996, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. figures.

PRICES HEADING UP

Coke's plan to increase prices of its concentrate to bottlers by 6% or 7% this year also is good reason for the marketer to reach out to consumers who will suddenly find they must pay more for a bottle of soda.

"What Coke means to people today is important because we sell a billion of those drinks a day but every night at midnight the clock resets and if we want to grow, we have to sell more than a billion," said Mr. Rowden.

Colas overall have been declining as lemon-lime, orange and other flavors grow at a faster rate, said Gary Hemphill, VP at Beverage Marketing Corp.

Mr. Rowden wouldn't comment on the cost of the campaign. Coke spent $95.6 million on measured media in the first nine months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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