Friday, 19 September 2014

Life’s a soda now. Have Brand Masters Coca-Cola got it right again?

Have Coca-Cola got it right again ?
After a 13 year reign as top brand in the world, last year Coke was superseded by Apple. Well that is how the consultancy Interbrand measured things last year.

How most of us would like to get it as wrong ( I write ironically) as Coca-Cola !

For me they are still the Brand Master when half the world has yet to make its first telephone call , although I guess the current usurper  Masters at Apple may have something to say about that.

I was reminded that even the great Coke occasionally does get it wrong when I came across a product in the Coffee shop attached to the Loyola University, Baumhart Campus, in Chicago where  I was teaching just a couple of week’s ago. One of the Coke brands that does well in the the states but bombed in the UK.

 A marketing launch story of some 10 years ago in the UK.


or 6 weeks of Marketing Hell in early 2004

You would not think that Coke selling branded water would cause it problems.

Dasani was launched in the UK on 10 February 2004. After some unfortunate instances in the launch e.g. Early advertisements referred to Dasani as "bottled spunk" or featured the tag line "can't live without spunk". 

These slogans were used  oblivious to the fact that ‘spunk’ is slang for semen in the UK. 

This was shortly followed  by an article in  the trade magazine The Grocer  mentioned that the source of the Dasani brand water was in fact treated tap water from Sidcup, on the outskirts of London , which followed by a lampooning press who associated this with a well known successful comedy episode of Only Fools and horses saw Dell Trotter tried to promote “Peckham Spring Water” for the mains tap. Unfortunately rather than laughing with the UK public laughed at Coke.

 On 18 March 2004, UK authorities found a concentration of bromate, a suspected human carcinogen, in the product that could be considered harmful if consumed in large quantities. Coca-Cola immediately recalled half a million bottles and pulled the "Dasani" brand from the UK market

That was then –  but remember most marketing case studies are written with hindsight ( case study 20/20 vision) It is surprisingly easy to get cultural vocabulary wrong on the international marketing scene,  misconstrued press articles can be costly and then if the product has some 'teething' problems...

Corporate Resilience

But Coke are bold and good at picking  themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting all over again.   ( for fans of the 1936  movie Swing Time)

Well for you fellow Brand managers out there -maybe tracking the ups and downs of Coke’s newest drink product would make useful learning without the commercial risks they have to take.

Obligatory Blog photo selfie.
 (No bottle of Coca-Cola Life) was harmed
 in the making of this selfie
First thing I notice is the change of brand colour. GREEN but coke is red and always has been surely?

 I mean it's like saying to Ferrari drop the red, to Virgin scrap the red, to Santander give up the red, to Vodafone bin the red.

I mean you don't mess with the Brand's flagship colour! or do you ?

Well things change. sometimes imperceptibly.

 Just Google 'Coke logos' and designs and see how over the years there have been many changes.

The latest addition to the family – Coca‑Cola Life – is now in  UK shops. It's Coke’s first lower-calorie cola sweetened from natural sources.

Coca‑Cola Life is made with a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract, and contains a third less sugar and a third fewer calories than Coca‑Cola

Coca‑Cola = 42 calories per 100ml
CocaCola Life = 27 calories per 100ml
Coca‑Cola Zero = Less than 1 calorie per 100ml
Diet Coke = Less than 1 calorie per 100ml

Brand masters Coke  are  constantly innovating and creating products . 

The introduction of Coca‑Cola Life is part of their commitment to offer a variety of drinks, so there’s something to suit every “ lifestyle and occasion.”

The Coca‑Cola range now, it seems, has something for everyone: Coca‑Cola, lower-calorie Coca‑Cola Life and two no-calorie options, Coca‑Cola Zero and Diet Coke.

Following 5 years research In Argentina Coca-Cola Life was launched first in June 2013, followed by a roll out in Chile in November in the same year.

It is the first version of the soft drink to be produced with stevia and sugar as sweeteners.

 Coca-Cola Life was launched in the USA, Frontier of Mexico and Sweden, in September 2014; and is undergoing trials in the UK as of August 2014.

POP in W H Smith store
So why have Coke launched this new cola?

 They know there are consumers who are looking to reduce their calorie intake without compromising on taste and there is growing interest in new ingredients, such as stevia leaf extract, that provide sweetness from natural sources.

The launch of CocaCola Life is also the latest in a series of initiatives  to promote well-being and help address obesity in the UK.

 It is just one of the ways we're providing consumers with soft drinks for every lifestyle and occasion, so that consumers can make choices to meet their individual needs.

Stevia sweetener has already been introduced into Sprite, reducing its calories by 30% compared with its previous recipe

Bottles and Cans of Coca-Cola Life in their
distinctive green packaging in a Sainsburys Store
Coke has been steadily reducing the calories of some of their other popular brands, Lilt, Oasis and Fanta, by 56%, 35% and 30% compared with their previous recipes

They have been Increasing marketing investment for their low- and no-calorie colas, Diet Coke and Coca‑Cola Zero

Broadening thier packaging range to include smaller portions with the addition of a new 250ml can

Investing  some £20m to help inspire 1 million people to get active by 2020 through physical activity programmes such as Coca‑Cola Zero ParkLives

This summer they  launched Coca‑Cola Zero ParkLives: a nationwide programme of fun, free, family activities in the heart of local communities – the parks!

In their first year, they have teamed up with local councils in three cities: Birmingham, Newcastle and the London Borough of Newham.

This will be  expanded with the programme to work with more UK cities in 2015, with the aim of inspiring even more people to get active.

“From Tai chi to Rounders, Zumba to Table Tennis, there’s something for everyone, and the activities on offer have been informed by local research. The sessions are taken by local session leaders and, what’s more, they’re completely free to join!”

Coke believe that leading an active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do for your health and happiness.

 Earlier this year, Coke made a pledge to get one million people active by 2020, and Coca‑Cola Zero ParkLives is a key part of this commitment.

They’ll be working with the national physical activity expert ukactive to closely measure the impact of the programme and ensure it makes a positive difference in each city.

So brand managers ,keep an eye out and learn from THE Brand masters at Coke - even if your have to do so surfing on your new Apple i-phone 6 launched in the UK today!


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