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Coca-Cola: Turning Self Interest into Sharing

Posted: October 16, 2014, 6:04 p.m.
by Rachel Uniatowski & Amber Patterson.

Many of us dream of having our names in lights. Although Coke didn’t do that, it came pretty close by putting consumers’ names on its Coca-Cola products. “Share a Coke” with . . . Tony, Sam, Sarah, even Mom, Dad and Go-Getter were just a few of the 150 names placed front and center on Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero products this summer during Coca-Cola’s “Share A Coke” campaign.

On “Coca-Cola Journey,” the company blog, Jennifer Healan, group director of integrated marketing content and design for Coca-Cola North America, said, “’Share A Coke’ is designed to get people talking and sharing. When teens see the iconic Coca-Cola logo has been replaced by their name or their friends’ names, they can’t help but take a picture and post it online.”

Although the “Share A Coke” campaign just hit the U.S. this summer, it has been traveling the world for the past few years. The campaign first launched in Australia in 2011 and was created by Ogilvy & Mather Sydney, along with a host of other agencies that aided in implementation. Ogilvy partnered up with the iconic brand to create a campaign that would not only get consumers to fall in love with the Coke, but to actually consume its products.

The main objective for the Australian campaign was to increase the consumption of Coke during the summer months in an already competitive soft drink market. The soft drink giant also wanted the world to start talking about Coke again. It needed something to reinvigorate the brand, and the “Share A Coke” campaign was the perfect lifeline.

For this campaign, Coca-Cola decided to take its brand to a new level — more specifically, a personal level. Coke tapped into a recurring theme of a generation filled with the need to make everything personal and took it up a notch. It simply put the selfie on a Coke bottle, and the result was consumers emptying fridges just to find their names. Coke bottles flooded Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, keeping the brand’s reputation of uniting the world with values of love and sharing.

“Today, the most highly impactful, and now proven way to engage customers is through their active co-creation of the brand, something ‘Share A Coke’ program seems to be doing well,” said Tom Collinger, executive director of Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center at Northwestern University. “Our research proves the increased sale impact of effective customer co-creation, making this program one that likely is turning passive consumers to active engagers and buyers.”


Coke even took the campaign to the doorsteps of our favorite celebrities like Ludacris and Lupita Nyong’o. It researched those with large social media followings and celebrity influencers, sent them personalized Coke seeding kits, and let them take the campaign to their social media following.

Personalized Cokes became instrumental in marriage proposals and pregnancy announcements. The company took a privilege that seemed only available to celebrities and brought it to the everyday consumer.

“I think what the campaign did was it made Coke become a part of our lives whether we knew or wanted it to,” said Patrick McGillicuddy, who used the ‘Share A Coke’ campaign to announce his family’s pregnancy on YouTube. “All of a sudden, there’s a Coke bottle, literally, with your name on it. It’s as if Coke made a drink just for you. Coke was able to tap into something sacred, our desire to feel known.”

It was nearly impossible to avoid the hype. Coke revealed that we are the narcissistic society that we tried so hard to avoid, but let us know that it was OK as long as we shared.

“Honestly, the first time I saw the personalized Coke cans I thought, ‘That’s a genius marketing strategy, but I will not fall into the trap!’ It wasn’t until the pregnancy video idea came up that I truly appreciated the campaign,” said McGillicuddy.

Coke wanted its consumers to find the name of a friend, family member or themselves and share it with each other, and then share it with the world using social media. Coke purposefully used this campaign to tap into the minds of its consumers and made itself, as a brand, a part of people’s personal stories by having them #ShareACoke.


  1. Post comment

    Another hit. Your talents are beginning to surface at the right time.


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