Coca-Cola shows how to make anything - even a building - into a shareable touch point
By Chantal Tode
April 22, 2014
A rainbow appears over the Coca-Cola building in Johannesburg
A recent Coca-Cola campaign exemplifies how mobile is redefining outdoor advertising by putting actual rainbows over a city building and billboards to build positive brand perception via the many consumers taking photos with their mobile phones and sharing them on social media.
With consumers carrying smartphones all the time and interested in taking photos of whatever they encounter throughout the day, the campaign is an example of how mobile breaks brands free of the need to leverage traditional media. With mobile, anything can become a touch point, a development some brands are doing a better job of executing on than others.
“It shows that we need to be thinking about connected marketing and not just integrated anymore,” said Matt Rednor, chief strategy and innovation officer at MRY, New York. “A big idea doesn't mean you need to have an execution extended across multiple channels, but instead be connecting a brand to its audience across product, device and experience.
“Also, it demonstrates that marketers should be thinking ‘conversation back’ in a mobile world,” he said.
“Instead of creating content and then trying to listen to how consumers react we need to be planning from our response back. What do we want consumers to say about us and then work backwards from there to design an experience that will deliver that.”
Mr. Rednor is not affiliated with Coca-Cola. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.
While many other brands continue to struggle with how to tap into the power of photo-happy smartphone users, Coca-Cola is effectively taking its reputation for commidifying an emotional zeitgeist and translating this strategy for the mobile age.
Rather than an overarching mobile message – such as Coca-Cola’s iconic 70's ad featuring the song “I’d like to teach the world to sing” – the key here is that Coca-Cola is zeroing in on a specific moment in a specific place – in this case the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections – and creating a mobile-ready moment around it.
In anticipation of Freedom Day, a public holiday celebrated in South Africa on April 27, Coca-Cola has created rainbows over its office building in Johannesburg as well as over billboards by spraying mist made from recycled water and capturing the sun at specific angles.
The idea is to help South Africans celebrate the phrase “Rainbow Nation,” which was first used 20 years ago by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the country held its first post-apartheid democratic elections and is meant to represent the diversity of South Africans. The day of these elections is what is celebrated as Freedom Day.
A moment of happiness
A video posted by Coca-Cola on its YouTube channel on April 15 explains the history as well as a little bit about how the rainbows were created. The video then shows the rainbows and crowds of people taking a picture of them via their mobile phones. Six days after it was published, it had been viewed more than 35,000 times.
The copy in the video reads: “To celebrate what we have achieved we have created a moment of happiness.”
The campaign exemplifies how if brands can tap into a thought, idea or emotion shared by a group of people and enhance that experience somehow while also staying on message, this can be a powerful way to build brand using mobile.
This is significantly different from encouraging consumers to tweet a photo of a product using a brand hashtag for a chance to win a prize. Not only are these moments fleeting, but they do not necessarily engender much good will from consumers, even if they win a prize.
In comparison, Coca-Cola’s rainbows are likely to have a more lasting impact and improve brand perception.
“Every touch point from a brand is an opportunity for a shareable experience,” Mr. Rednor said. “We need to be thinking about how to make every part of a brand shareable, and not just creating separate shareable content.”
“The payoff is a positive impact on brand equity,” he said. “This experience will generate positive conversation and earned reach that will ultimately build brand love, which will positively impact the brand's perception over time.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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