Tuesday, May 03, 2011

How to Celebrate Birthday #125

I personally don't know any 125 year olds that can eat corrosion off a car battery terminal.

I don't know anyone who is 125 years old.

But we're not talking about a person. We're talking Coke.

Click here to see it first hand

From Mediapost:

Coke Pours It On For 125th Anniversary by Thom Forbes

Perhaps the most telling example of the universal breadth of the appeal of Interbrand's No. 1 global brand for the past decade may be a 30-second commercial celebrating Coca-Cola's 125th anniversary with a montage of some of the best campaigns in its history as "I'd like to teach the world to sing" plays in the background. The spot was created by McCann Spain in cooperation with McCann Bulgaria/Italy and has a decidedly Anglo voiceover.

But that example would tend to appeal to those of us who are right-brained. The left-brained among us would cite the following figure from Natalie Zmuda's celebratory story in Ad Age this morning: the company spends annually $2.9 billion on advertising across 206 markets. Whether you chalk it up to creativity, taste or sheer marketing muscle, it's working. Worldwide volume growth rose 6% in the first quarter while volume at brand Coca-Cola was up 3% during that time. What's more, Diet Coke surpassed Pepsi last year to become the No. 2 soft drink in the U.S., according to Beverage Digest.

Zmuda writes that Coke's history is "filled with intrigue and innovation, success and failure" and she reviews the highlights well. But it is mostly a still-evolving marketing story, she points out, that seems to have once again hit on a winning theme when it jettisoned "Coke Side of Life" and launched "Open Happiness" in 2009. Ninety countries adopted the entire "Happiness" marketing program last Christmas. Coca-Cola also has figured out social media big time after a stumbling start and is again in hot in pursuit of a cola-drinking demographic that Pepsi has zeroed in on since the Sixties: teens.

"There was a time [a decade ago] when we walked away from teen recruitment and probably lost a generation of drinkers," chief marketing and commercial officer Joe Tripodi tells Zmuda. "Parts of the world lost confidence in cola as the engine of growth. We've gotten that back in a big way."

The anniversary celebration has been a long time in the planning and is quite extensive in its execution. The company's licensing division was gearing up for the celebration two years ago, Retail Merchandiser reported. And the logo is emblazoned on everything from a 125th Anniversary Yahtzee Game to a set of limited-edition cans created by London artist James Jarvis.

"Coca-Cola was invented in Atlanta, Ga., in 1886 as a combination of local pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton's unique syrup and carbonated water and was first sold at Jacobs' Pharmacy as a soda fountain drink for five cents per glass," the Retail Merchandiser piece reminds us. "The Coca-Cola logo was invented by Dr. Pemberton's partner, Frank Robinson, who drew it himself."

As for the type of spectacles we can expect, a photo of chairman/CEO Muhtar Kent in front of the Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary Young People's Chorus -- 125 youths from metro Atlanta and New York high schools -- was released last week from the company's 2011 Annual Meeting.

For the sheer nostalgia of it, why not have a Coke and a smile this morning. Ad Age has compiled a Top Ten list of Coke's campaigns that start with Haddon Sunblom's print rendition of a ruddy, jolly Santa in 1931 and ends with the "Happiness Machine" viral video from last year in which a vending machine on a college campus not only dispenses copious amounts of free soda but also sunflowers, balloon animals, pizza and a giant hoagie.

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