Coca Cola is changing.

They have announced a new global marketing strategy.

It even has a name.

“One brand.”

As leaders stare into the abyss of ‘global outlook’, it makes sense that Coca Cola are adopting a unified brand doctrine across the world.

There was discussion in AdWeek about what the new strategy meant for Coke, and how it represents a shift in advertising philosophy.

“Open Happiness could be said about a lot of things, when you open anything. But when you talk about ‘Taste the Feeling’, you have a very strong feeling with Coke, and you also have the literal aspect of tasting it – the taste of happiness.” Adam Padilla, CEO of consultancy Brandfire, in AdWeek

The argument is that ‘Open happiness’ could be the tag line of any product.

But ‘Taste the Feeling’ links emotion with consumption of the product.

If Coke is embarking on a new philosophy then the tagline isn’t the lynchpin. In fact the two strategic jingles are interchangeable without the context of visuals.

Flip the scenario around. ‘Taste the Feeling’ could be applied to tasting any product.

Whilst ‘Open Happiness’ concentrates a distinct emotion at the point of opening a Coke: happiness.

If the meaning is transferable depending on the context, will consumers suddenly ‘taste the feeling’ of coke because it’s explicit in the ad messages?

“We make simple, everyday moments more special.” Marcos de Quinto, Coca Cola

The real philosophical shift is in the overhaul of Coke’s visual style and their new ability to align with moments that people really feel, rather than a conceptualised happiness.

de Quinto’s quote taps right into Google’s ‘moments that matter’ philosophy. And with a portfolio of imagery, films and snackable vignettes, Coke now have a reference point for a library of content which can be positioned carefully at the right place and time for consumers with fast-paced lifestyles.

No doubt harnessing that feeling of an important personal moment, and turning it into a consumption moment.

“Young people want to feel part of a global society, and they’re looking for brands that can help them participate in one…” Joseph Anthony, founder and CEO of millennial-focused branding firm Hero Group, in AdWeek

In the new ads, product is woven (sometimes beautifully, sometimes clumsily, occasionally ridiculously) into the diverse, international stories presented via film.

The imagery and music is evocative; the stories range through adversity and triumph, heartbreak and joy, fear and acceptance; and Coke is there throughout.

There’s a feeling of being part of a larger human story.

‘Taste the Feeling’ works in this scenario, even if it’s a bit part, not a revolutionary statement. The ads conjure up feelings. The lives and stories might not feel like real life, but they are Romantic, visceral, desirable.

“Coca-Cola is in one of the more unique positions that I’ve ever seen: The brand is revered, and the product is increasingly reviled.” Geoff Cook, founding partner of Base Design, in AdWeek

Paradigm shift or not, Coca Cola are combining the best features of ‘traditional’ product advertising with the need to stay relevant in a hyper connected global economy. Not to mention in face of sugar taxes and consumer trends towards healthy living.  They are appealing to the heart, not the head.

The blend of old-school product selling and modern digital storytelling is a refreshing riposte to the cloak and daggers of automated content marketing and vagaries of digital advertising theory (even if the narratives range from inspiring to patronising).

Whether it works for individual consumers, might just come down to personal taste.

 

There's a real spectrum of success amongst Cole's new images and films. I like the metaphor of a smashing Coke bottle during 'break up', even if it isn't the subtlest comparison. But a couple hailing a cab with a Coke in one hand and a glass bottle in the arse pocket of her jeans? And the supermarket one. Yeah. Maybe get a room with yourself Coke?

 

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