Coca-Cola taps old favourites for big holiday push

The brand is adapting "Share a Coke" and bringing back its iconic winter characters to boost its second-biggest selling season.

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Coke is adapting its “Share a Coke” program to the holidays and tapping into some of its iconic imagery to boost what the brand says is its second-highest selling season after summer.

Share a Coke” has featured custom labels with things like different names, relationships and occasions over the summer season in recent years, but for the holidays has new gift tag-inspired peel and stick labels affixed to bottles.

coke-peel-off“We have had our Share a Coke program for a few years and we wanted to keep the same idea but introduce a new twist,” says Michael Samoszewski, VP of marketing for Coca-Cola in Canada, allowing customers to “add a little Coca-Cola magic to all of their gifts.”

These labels will be on every 500mL bottle of Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar from Nov. 15 through the end of the year while supplies last, and Samoszewski says the Coke Zero option is for those concerned about calories over the holiday season.

In a release, the company says 2019 will be one of the biggest holiday campaigns for the Coca-Cola brand. To that end, the brand is utilizing polar bears and Santa Claus, which Samoszewski tells strategy is due to consumer demand to “reunite our biggest and most beloved icons.”

Coca-Cola has utilized polar bears in its winter television spots since 1993, though they haven’t been featured in seven years. Despite the hiatus, the brand’s internal testing showed the new polar bear creative scored high on ease of understanding, strength of branding, enjoyment and message relevance. On an emotional level, Samoszewski says its bear-centred holiday spot makes Canadians feel that “warm, nostalgic connection to Christmas.”

santa-cokeBuilding on the nostalgia play, the brand is again using its connection to Santa Claus, which goes back to ads from the 1920s. Today, the brand says the icon is critical to in-store appeal.

We have evolved the look and feel of Santa over the years but we always look to strike the right balance between modernizing and being true to the authenticity of this iconic and distinct asset,”  Samoszewski says. 

He says that with Coca-Cola’s close connection to Santa Claus, which includes his image on cans and in holiday advertising, “we know Canadians look forward to seeing what we come out with every year and we look forward to their reactions.”