Liquid & Linked – Coca Cola’s fantastic marketing strategy

Although I use consume none of their products, Coca-Cola is by far one of my favorite brands in the world. Even before it defined its strategy, story-telling has been at the core of their communication efforts and I feel like I’ve grown with its narrative. I recently came across this fantastic presentation by Wendy Clark, Head of Integrated Marketing at Coca-Cola that talks about their 2020 vision. I found myself nodding vigorously to every point she was making and it’s so simple and so good that I wanted to capture some of those points here.

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Paraphrased:

- As a brand, we refuse the shiny object syndrome. We have too many successes and learnings internally to abandon before we go after a new idea.

- There are equal number of television sets as there are computers; and both are eclipsed by the number of mobile phones. In fact, the Economist wrote: A baby is born every 4 seconds;  but 15 mobile phones are sold in those 4 seconds. Brands that don’t know how to tell stories on the phone will be left behind. (Another cool fact: Qatar has 212% mobile penetration)

- Strategy to achieving Coca-Cola’s 2020 vision (of doubling their business) is “Liquid and Linked.” Liquid because Coca-Cola’s communication must travel the furthest and “Linked” because it has to stay true to the brand strategy.

- Marketing model: Paid, Earned, Owned & Shared. Shared is a key piece of this model and how Coca-Cola is activating its consumer engagement.

- Paid as at the crux of what Coca-Cola does and it varies dramatically country to country. 80% of Coca-Cola’s target audience watches TV so ofcourse, their dollars are going to go there.

- With Shared, it is important that it is integrated. It is important to partner with the right kinds of distribution partners to ensure that the story does not fall apart.

- The mandate with owned is to activate it. Everything communicates: so as marketers it is important that we leverage everything from our cans and bottles to our equipment to our transportation. It is all hard working media for us. We constantly ask ourselves, how can we make these more interactive? And the power of design is critical when we think about owned media. Everything that is static now will become dynamic and contextually relevant. At any point in the continuum of connections, we will be able to share our story. Our global fleet is twice as large as that of Fedex and UPS combined. We are the fourth largest employee in the world. We need to ensure all these assets are working for us and we need to use them to drive our competitive advantage.

- Our approach with Earned is to Engage it. Our model for that is “Distributed Creativity.” Impressions will always be the backbone of how we measure it but they offer no level of engagement. So the way we are measuring impact is via Expressions – instead of impressions. Expressions is your engagement with my brand: like, share, comment, etc.. Consumers are driving the conversation by creating content. Share is more important to me, than like – That’s why we drive the expressions on our brand.

- What’s a fan worth? We’ve done our own research. Fans vs. non-fans – fans have two times the consumption frequency of a non-fan and have ten times the purchase intent of a non-fan. When we activated the fan page, we did a pre-and post against then. Even with our fans, our most loyal consumers – we drove a 7% increase in active consumption and 10% increase in purchase intent. (Marked differences in Columbia and Great Britian – but gives you an idea)

- Mandate on content for us is to tell powerful stories. We cannot afford to put out mediocre content. Stories ahve to be powerful, liquid and linked. We think about storytelling at Coca Cola from end to end. Simple text based programs for the global mobile audience.

- As marketers we have to meet our consumers at their truth and work them towards ours. You have to co-create, participate and honor the community. When we do, our community fans pay us back.

Summing it up, Liquid and Linked landscape means: innovate paid, activate owned, integrated shared and engage earned through storytelling content.

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