What Coca-Cola Is Talking About When It Talks About Content
When a company more or less invents Santa Claus, then you know it’s a legendary marketer. That’s why content mavens got so excited earlier this year when Coke’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy declared in a two-part video manifesto (Part I, Part II) that the company will “move from creative excellence to content excellence.”
There’s been a flurry of blogging on how other companies can follow Coke’s lead, but it’s worth stepping back and looking at what kind of content Coke is talking about.
The video is intended to lay out an agenda for Coke’s marketers and agency partners, so it is layered with internal jargon, but it is definitely worth viewing. Its creator, VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence Jonathan Mildenhall, recently said (courtesy of Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute):
“All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.”
In the video, Mildenhall says Coke needs to tell an “emotional story” that “adds value and significance to people’s lives.” For many decades, Coke’s marketing has kept a laser focus on the theme of happiness. To me, the theme didn’t seem at first like fertile ground for a lot of great content—it seems vague, vaporous and anti-dramatic, but maybe that’s just me—but I was surprised.
Here are a few examples of what Coke is producing and distributing via channels such as its YouTube channel and its Facebook page, which with 35.3 million followers is the world’s biggest company Facebook page:
Where will happiness strike next More than 11 million Filipinos work abroad. Many are too poor to fly home, so they haven’t seen their families for years. Coke brought a few of them home for Christmas and documented their (Coke-fueled) reunions. Try to keep your eyes dry watching this one. It’s gotten 1.1 million views so far.
Coca-Cola Happiness Machine A Coke machine starts dispensing free Coke—and then flowers, a pizza, and much more—to the unscripted delight of college students filmed on hidden camera. This video has spawned many variants, such as one about a free-Coke-dispensing truck in a Brazilian favela.
Interactive videos Sprinkled throughout the Facebook page are riddles whose answers point to websites with branded, fun, happiness-spreading interactive videos and mini-games. There’s no way to describe it other than providing the riddle to one of my favorite such sites:
There's no good dance parties for fish,
So we granted their deep-sea wish
Find the place where dancing's real
Between a shark and an electric eel
If you're a total ocean smarty,
You'll find the U _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ D _ _ _ _ P _ _ _ _ .com
Maybe Coke got famous doing 30-second TV spots and print ads, but they’ve done a great job sponsoring content that breaks far outside those boxes. It’s yet more evidence that branded content can make an emotional connection with customers.
Richard Sine writes about business, personal finance and health for magazines and content marketers. He writes regularly for Men’s Health magazine and for brands such as Fidelity Investments, UPS and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.