In China, Coca-Cola is paying homage to 23 different Chinese cities with limited-edition cans that playfully nod to their local cultures. The designs show each city, personified: Chengdu, famous for its relaxed culture and its pandas, becomes a laid-back young woman in a cute panda hat.
The designs are by Israel-born illustrator Noma Bar, known for minimalist, thought-provoking designs and his use of negative space; an alum of Ad Age's Creativity 50, his past work includes award-winning animations for New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The concept stems from an idea McCann pitched to the company a few years ago, about how people in China identify strongly with what city they're from. There's a lot of migration within China, with people leaving their hometowns to find opportunities elsewhere. "When you meet someone for the first time, a lot of the time they'll say their name and what city they're from," says Richard Cotton, head of content, creative & design, Coca-Cola Greater China & Korea.
While Coca-Cola had done cans with landmarks on them in Japan, the brand was looking for something different in China.
"As the campaign developed, the big leap forward was realizing that people don't identify with landmarks--what makes up the city is the people, its culture, and the varied nuances and flavors," Cotton says. Some cans have iconic landmarks on them along with more subtle cultural cues. The design for Shanghai shows a woman with her hair piled up into the shape of an iconic local skyscraper, the Oriental Pearl Tower, but it nods to the city's fashion scene by putting her in a traditional qipao dress. The can for Changsha includes a famous local pavilion, but it refers to the city's love of spicy food by styling the character's hair into the shape of a flame.
Through a partnership with search giant Baidu, people can scan the cans with their smartphones to unlock AR animations. The campaign includes print ads, billboards and a commercial starring singer-actor Lu Han. Cia Hatzi, chief client officer for McCann Worldgroup APAC, says it's the first time Coke put its Chinese "Taste the Feeling" theme song into local dialects, such as Shanghainese.