TV Spot

Its beginnings were rather typical. Soft drink giant Coke needed to keep the brand fresh during Christmas, its key consumption period. The business need identified, the solution had to be cost-effective.

Its beginnings were rather typical. Soft drink giant Coke needed to keep the brand fresh during Christmas, its key consumption period. The business need identified, the solution had to be cost-effective.

So in the fall of 2003, Coca-Cola Canada’s Aaron Macanuel, group brand manager for Coke trademark Canada, decided that to keep leveraging the iconic nature of the cola brand he wouldn’t ‘reinvent the wheel’ and create a Canadian spot. Instead, he looked at work created elsewhere. ‘We wanted to do something that was holiday and iconic, something that really made the product front and centre and integrated into the ad.’

For the past few years a handful of spots, including the memorable 3D rendering of polar bears, had been used over the Christmas push. Macanuel says a change was needed to keep the brand evolving. So he ventured farther. Much.

A request to the brand’s global teams for work that was iconic, creative and scored well with audiences was issued. The offerings were then short-listed to about 10, which in varying degrees of completion (some current ads; others still at the storyboard stage) were focus group tested.

Rising to the top were two TV spots, one from the Philippines, the other from Argentina, both created by McCann Erickson which, through a rather inspired idea, transformed Coke’s hour-glass bottle and shiny red bottle cap into several disparate, yet striking holiday images of Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Rudolph’s red nose and the like. ‘There are very few brands around the world that have an icon that they can show a symbol of and people know what it is; Coke is at the top of that list,’ says Macanuel. ‘It’s almost negligent on our part not to leverage such a strong asset.’

The spot from Argentina in particular had been extremely successful, working its way through about 40 different countries since it was originally broadcast in 2002, says Hilton Barbour, group account director at Toronto-based MacLaren McCann. He says while a storyboard was created, significant changes were not needed because the original spot was ‘truly global in nature.’ Creatives at the agency took the most compelling images from both spots then put them together to create one. A warm-and-fuzzy voiceover was added extolling the virtues of Coke at Christmas time. The result was ‘Real Holidays,’ a spot that tested ‘well above norm’ with high recall among kids and older adults both before and after broadcast, Macanuel says. Results were so encouraging that they used it again last year.

In addition to a roughly six-week TV run, an interesting media buy was also thrown in last year: Over two weeks at Christmas, the spot ran on two digital billboards in Toronto’s high-traffic Dundas Square. It was the ‘logical place’ given the Christmas-shopping rush, says Barbour. And, with the newness of the technology at the time, it helped reinforce Coke’s link with innovation.

Macanuel says while the spot was creatively impressive, it was really the bottom line driving the choice of execution. And, he adds, it’s a trend that more global companies are finally recognizing simply makes sense.

‘Egos are being pushed aside now. There was a certain degree of: ‘Well, if it wasn’t created here, then I don’t want it: I can’t put on my resumé that I adapted this from the U.S.’ [But] more [people] are starting to

realize that you appear smarter because you do that rather than reinvent the wheel and burn up company resources.’