When you think of Coca Cola what comes to your mind? It wouldn’t be surprising if you thought first of Coke ads. In the history of advertising perhaps no other company has had such a strong and continuous impact on society through advertising. Not only have Coke’s ads been successful at selling its soft drinks, but decade after decade Coca Cola’s ads and campaigns have influenced our very culture by making their way into the hearts and minds of the consumers. A Brief Ad History In the 1920s Coca Cola shifted its advertising strategy, focusing for the first time on creating brand loyalty.
It began advertising the soft drink as fun and refreshing. Coke’s 1929 campaign slogan was: The Pause that Refreshes. To this day, that slogan remains number two on Advertising Age’s top 100 slogans of all the time. How about those famous Coca Cola Santa Clause print ads? Most people probably have seen an example of such. What most people don’t realize is that our modern-day vision of Santa as a jolly old man with a white beard in a red suit and hat is to some extent a result of those Coke ads that began emerging in popular magazines in 1931.
Before that, the world’s image of Santa was fragmented, with physical portrayals of the legendary holiday visitor ranging from a pixie to a leprechaun to even a frightening gnome. But Coca Cola’s long-running series of ads solidified what was becoming a common U. S. image, making our beloved Santa Clause recognizable around the world. Those Coca Cola campaigns were probably a little before your time. but what about Coca Cola’s 1971 “Hilltop” campaign. Perhaps you remember its lyrics, “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.
I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keept it company. ” The song was sung by a choir of young people from all over the world, perched high on a hilltop, each holding an iconic hourglass-shaped bottle of Coke. Within months, Coca Cola and its bottlers received more than a hundred thousand letters about the ad. The ad actually received requests at radio stations; so many in fact, that a version of the song was released as a pop-music single. The jingle’s tagline, “It’s the real thing,” served as the foundation for Coke ads for years. Still too long ago for you?
Maybe you have heard of Coke’s ad showing a bruised and battered Mean Joe Green tossing his shirt to a young fan after the boy shares his Coke with the pro football player. The ad appears consistently at the top of “Best Super Bowl Ads” lists. Or how about “Coke is it? ” “Can’t beat the feeling? ” certainly you would remember the jingle made famous in the 1990s, “Always Coca Cola”. And who doesn’t make some associate between the sweet, dark, bubbly beverage and polar bear? Innovative animation technology put those lovable creatures in only a handful of ads, but they are forever etched in the memories of consumers everywhere.
These are only some highlights of Coca Cola’s long advertising history, stretching back to the company’s origin in 1886. With so many hits and such a huge impact on consumers, it’s hard to imagine that the beverage giant ever gets into an advertising rut. But as the new millennium began to unfold, many considered that Coke had lost its advertising sizzle. The company was struggling to create ads that resonated with younger folks while at the same time appealing to older consumers. And the company’s ads were routinely out-pointed by those of rival Pepsi. Coca Cola needed some new advertising fizz.
Back to the Bowl Where does a company turn when it wants to make a big ad splash? For Coca Cola, it’s thoughts turned to the marquee of all advertising events – the Super Bowl. The company had certainly had success with the ad venue before. But scoring big with a Super Bowl ad isn’t guaranteed. In fact, many cynics view the ad venue as a waste of money. One team of researchers found that average brand recall one week after the 2008 Super Bowl was an unimpressive 7%. Recall for specific commercials and the brand represented therein was even worse at only 4%.
That doesn’t speak very highly for a 30 second ad that costs $ 2. 7 million to air. And perhaps even more to produce. The Super Bowl has its share of critics who think it is far too costly for a single event, regardless of how many people tune-in. But for all the misses, there have been plenty of hits. In 1999, Hotjobs. com blew half of its $ 4 million advertising budget for the year on a single 30-second spot. The result? Traffic on its web site immediately shot up 120%, choking its network and server system. Monster. com saw similar results that same year.
And hundreds of advertisers throughout the Super Bowl’s history have been very satisfied with the results of their ads. For its 2008 campaign debut, Coca Cola was confident that the Super Bowl was just right for its broad target market. It assigned Wieden + Kennedy the task of crafting a 60-second commercial. Hal Curtis, one of the top creative directors for the agency, took charge of the project. Two years before, Mr. Curtis had come up with an idea for an ad while working on a different campaign. He thought the idea was perfect for Coke. By now, you’ve probably seen the ad.
Titled “It’s mine”, the spot is set at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, a parade famous for its blimp-sized balloons marched through the Central Park area on long tethers. The Coke ad focuses on two particular characters, Stewie Griffin from Fox network’s comedy television show Family Guy and the classic cartoon character Underdog. Both balloons sidle up to a huge Coke balloon. The two characters begin fighting over the coke, bouncing around in a kind of slow-motion ballet against the New York skyline, bumping up against buildings.
As the scuffle progresses above the streets, moving higher and higher, New Yorkers look on from hot dog stands, cabs, and even inside buildings. At the story’s climactic moment, a giant balloon depicting the cartoon character Charlie Brown emerges from nowhere, swooping and claiming a giant Coke, leaving Stewie and Underdog empty-handed. The spot cost Coca Cola $ 2. 3 million to make and more than double that to air. It was also the most difficult ad that Mr. Curtis had ever produced. For starters, he encountered mounds of red tape in negotiating the rights to use the well-known cartoon characters in the ad.
Choreographic and shooting footages of giant balloons in one of the world’s biggest cities brought its own set of challenges. At one point, bad weather forced the project indoors and all the way across the country to the Paramount Studios on the West Coast. The post-shoot animation was considered yet a third shoot for the ad. It all added up to four months of production and postproduction. When asked about the challenge of simultaneously reaching consumers of all ages with an advertisement, Mr. Curtis responded, “A good story appeals to everyone.
And a story that is well told appeals to young and old. Certainly, there are times where we want to skew a message younger, but for this spot that wasn’t part of thinking. ” Pio Schunker, Coca Cola’s head of creative excellence, added, “We are at our best when we speak to universal values that appeal to everyone rather than try and skew it to specific segments. ” According to Mr. Schunker, the universal value referred to here was that “Good really wins in the end”, a point that he thought was made strongly with the contrast of Charlie Brown over a character like Stewie.
In fact, Curtis originally pitched the ad with an ending that had the Coke bottle getting punctured on a flagpole and neither balloon getting it. But Coca Cola wanted something that was emotionally more positive, something that expressed optimism. “I felt it was such a downer of an ending to have these characters chase the Coke and not get it,” stated Mr. Schunker. It was Curtis’s 12 year old son, Will, who gave him the idea for what became the ending when he said, “Why can’t another balloon get it? ” For Hal Curtis, the next logical step was Charlie Brown.
Everyone was happy with the end result. Both Coca Cola and Wieden + Kennedy felt that the ad communicated the desired message perfectly while bringing out the kind of warm emotions that had emanated from Coca Cola ads for decades. The hunches of these ad veterans proved correct. The day after the game, Coke’s balloon ad had 350 blog posts, while Pepsi’s ads had only 250. A week after that, the “It’s Mine” ad was the most talked about ad online. SuperBowl-Ads. com had it rated as the top ad of the dozens that aired on the 2008 gridiron matchup.
And later in the year, the spot won a Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions festival, the most prestigious award event in the industry. There is no doubt that the “It’s Mine” ad achieved more buzz and more size than Coca Cola’s ads in recent history. But that’s only a first step to advertising success. In the end, the only result that really matters is whether or not the ad has the intended effect on consumers. Although the impact of Coca Cola’s “it’s Mine” ad or its history of other outstanding ads on actual beverage sales may never be known, one broader conclusion is clear.
Every year, Interbrand publishes the premier ranking of global brands based on monetary value. And every year since Interbrand began publishing the list in 2001, Coca Cola has held the top spot. At $ 65 billion, Coca Cola is the world’s most valuable brand. Thus, it’s pretty easy to make the connection between Coca Cola’s brand value and more than 100 years of stellar advertising. Questions for Discussions 1. Consider Coca Cola’s advertising throughout its history. Identify as many commonalities as possible for its various ads and campaigns. (For a list of Coca Cola slogans over the years, check out http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/Coca-Cola_slogans) 2. Analyze the “It’s Mine” ad based on the process of creating an advertising message. 3. Discuss issues of selecting advertising media for the “It’s Mine” ad. How might this process differ from that of other Coca Cola’s campaigns? From another campaigns for other companies? 4. Based on the information given in this case, how might Coca Cola measure the effectiveness of the “It’s Mine” ad? What else might Coca Cola want to measure? ———————– Coca Cola: Another Advertising Hit Famous cartoon: Underdog Stewie Griffin from Family Guy Charlie Brown
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