Coca-Cola has deployed amazing works of creativity in every corner of the globe, so it doesn't come as a huge surprise that Cannes has named the beverage company its 2013 Creative Marketer of the Year. It is surprising, however, that the marketer is only being honored now, despite the Lions it has won over the past 50 years -- last year alone, it won 30 Lions.
Here, we take a look at some of the soft drink company's best creative moves. Included are some of the more recent work, but also a handful of classics. Which one is your favorite, and what would you like to add? Tell us in the comments.
Small World Machines
Just last month, Coca Cola and Leo Burnett unveiled what might be one of the boldest moves from the company -- to show that it's fizzy soda can unite citizens from two countries engaged in decades of tension.
"Small World Machines," were two vending machines placed in India and Pakistan that let people from either side of the border see each other, draw pictures and complete shared tasks. When they were done, the vending machines spit out a free Coke. Does it solve the problem? No, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
Coke is not new to vending stunts. In fact, arguably, it's the brand that has made marketers, and consumers, think twice before they approach such a machine, turning the devices into fertile territory for marketing stunts.
Here's the one that started it all: a machine filled with the trappings of happiness – pizza, sandwiches, sunflowers, balloons and Coke -- was placed in St. John's University's campus in New York, in this memorable stunt by Definition 6 that went viral.
Coke has picked on a simple, but effective motivation for all its advertising -- Happiness. Which is why we loved this creative effort by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam that started with simple riddles on the brand's Facebook page, that let to microsites that offered up tons of fun.
The brand also picked up on that idea for its 2013 Millennial-focused campaign, which offered up games, videos, GIFs and more when you went to www.ahh.com, www.ahhh.com, and so on -- with 61 sites in total.
Perhaps one of the company's most technologically-advanced projects, Polar Bowl, a campaign by Wieden & Kennedy for the 2012 Super Bowl, prepared two versions of a 60-second ad that ran during the second quarter, not deciding which would be telecast until they knew which team had the upper hand.
But even better, the ads were part of an integrated campaign featuring two Polar Bears, each supporting a different team, that, in real time, reacted to what was going on in the game. They shared their reactions on a special site, and the project required some pretty advanced digital tech, courtesy Framestore, as well as a team of creative and execs on hand working through the game.
The OFW Project
Reach for your hankies. Coca-Cola managed to infuse happiness in a very meaningful way into the lives of Filipino workers living away from their families with "The OFW Project," part of the brand's "Where Will Happiness Strike Next" campaign. The campaign reunited the overseas workers with their families for the holidays, leading to an emotional, yet inspirational film that was a hit online.
Coke and music have had a good relationship, as evidenced by its massively successful "Coke Studio" project in India and Pakistan. In Colombia, the company promoted online radio station Coke FM with this campaign, from Ogilvy & Mather Bogota, that asked people to literally "download" the songs of a band -- and the band itself -- at a live concert.
The artists were suspending above the stage, and every time the audience downloaded a song, they came down, bit by bit, until
they reached their fans.
While the brand hasn't had the greatest luck in changing the color of its cans, it isn't scared to try. In Brazil, it changed up its cans under the guidance of Wieden & Kennedy Sao Paulo, to reflect the colors of the Brazilian flag. The new packaging is available in the country for two months, and was created to support the Brazilian soccer team during the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The Do-Good Brand
Coke has hit on a good formula for creating heartwarming online clips celebrating, basically, the kindness of strangers. In a series of YouTube videos, it features strangers "dropping something valuable" somewhere, and sees how people return it.
Coke Portugal, for instance, took it a step further with a stunt where fans at a soccer stadium box office find a wallet with a ticket belonging to someone from the rival team. Turns out, there's lots of good in the world. The brand also created "Security Camera," a feel-good film out of Landia and Y&R Buenos Aires that showed how sometimes, security cameras capture acts of good, not just evil.
The Happiness Factory
Before there were stunts, there was the Happiness Machine. This whimsical spot created out of Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam and animated out of Psyop shows wonderland and cuddly creatures who are behind filling and dispensing a bottle of coke.
Game Gone GoodAnother memorable Coke spot out of Wieden + Kennedy and directed by Smith and Foulkes showed what happens when a thug from a Grand Theft Auto-themed videogame world takes a sip of Coke.
Coke used some familiar, lovable characters for this memorable 2008 spot, created by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam. It featured parade balloons in the shape of a bottle of Coke, and Stewie from 'Family Guy' fighting over it with Underdog. But the happy, delightful ending – which was the brainchild of the son of a Wieden creative director -- is what makes this one of our favorites.
Created by Ogilvy China, this Cannes Grand Prix-awarded poster that transforms the brand's classic swirls into a pair of hands that come together to grasp a Coke, was created by Jonathan Mak, a young designer who came to the agency's attention when he created the beautiful, widely shared tribute to Steve Jobs that showed his silhouette in the bite mark of the Apple apple.