Coke steps back to the humanity of past successes

Coca-Cola is rolling out its new worldwide campaign in Canada starting this week. Thirty new spots have been written and produced for the mega company in various countries around the world by Interpublic and it's McCann-Erickson unit, three or four of...

Coca-Cola is rolling out its new worldwide campaign in Canada starting this week. Thirty new spots have been written and produced for the mega company in various countries around the world by Interpublic and it’s McCann-Erickson unit, three or four of which will be seen in rotation across Canada in coming weeks. The spots began airing internationally April 22, but Coke wanted to wait until its popular Coke Card promo had expired, and extensive focus group testing had been conducted to decide which of the 30 new ads would run here.

The new spots mark a shift from recent Coke advertising that relied heavily on the use of animation, such as in the polar bear ads of recent years. It its latest efforts, Coca-Cola emphasizes humans. Having spots produced and focusing on local markets marks a strategic shift in the global effort. The strategy further reflects the new marketing possibilities that exist in the global village we now live in.

‘The real heart of the campaign is about storytelling,’ says group brand manager Jeff Shinozaki. ‘It’s simple but that’s really the strategy. One of the things the company has realized is that the past successes have revolved around the ability of Coca-Cola and the advertising to tell a story to consumers. I think that past examination of successes has really driven where this campaign is headed.’

How does this differ?

In one spot called ‘Long Island Railroad,’ a group of teenagers travels via train back from a rock concert on the eve of their high school graduation. One participant laments the fact that their lives are about to change. In voice-over he says, ‘And I kind of wished… We could all stay on that train forever.’ The spot effectively captures the emotions associated with a major life change. During the spot one of the guys slips a coke out of one of his female friend’s arms as she sleeps. The tag: Life tastes good. Coca-Cola.

‘One of the things you’ll see with this campaign is that its about real people, it’s about real stories,’ says Shinozaki. ‘I wouldn’t say there is anything dramatically different but certainly that is a continuing theme that you will see.’ The spots will appear on TV, radio, out-of-home and cinema through selected movie houses.

Coming to a theatre near you shortly is a spot produced out of South Africa that revolves around the relationship between a young man and his grandfather. In this piece, the guy sits down with his grandfather for a rare visit. To every question the older man gives he gets an unexpected answer. He has moved out of home, changed girlfriends, and is no longer studying engineering but fine arts. There is a distance between them until the grandfather returns to his seat with a couple of Cokes. The roles are reversed when grandpa is asked how grandma is doing, to which the old man jokingly says, ‘She moved out.’

‘I think you will see more emotion in the spots. I don’t think it will be a ‘tug at your heart strings’ kind of consistent theme. Whether it’s a spot about teens attending a rock concert or a grandson visiting his grandfather – the consistent theme you will see is about storytelling,’ says Shinozaki.

Credits:
‘Long Island Railroad’
McCann-Erickson North America (New York City)
Creatives: Craig Markus, Larry Platt, Katie Peabody (NYC)
Agency Producer: Sally Hotchkiss (NYC)
Director: Ivan Zacharius (Prague)
Production Company: Stink (London)
Edit House: V2 (NYC)