Coke Canada Bottling shows it does have a community connection

By spotlighting the people it employs, the independent distributor is trying to play up roots most people wouldn't expect a company linked to a global beverage giant to have.

Coke Canada Bottling is launching a rare, public-facing campaign to show that it’s close to home and communities, with the goal of changing perceptions among consumers who might otherwise associate it with one of the biggest beverage companies in the world.

And it’s doing that through highly-targeted placements to not only speak to those communities, but people living there that might be looking for a new place to work.

Coke Canada Bottling makes, distributes, merchandises and sells a range of beverages, including those owned by Coca-Cola as well as the likes of Canada Dry, A&W and Monster Energy through partner agreements.

But Todd Parsons, president and CEO of Coke Canada Bottling, tells strategy that many people don’t realize is that Coke Canada Bottling is a relatively new, family-owned business that’s independent of the global Coca-Cola company, with operations in every province through more than 50 sales and distribution centres and five manufacturing facilities.

“Because of this, we have close connections with our communities,” Parsons says. “When you’re out in the community and you see one of our distinctive red trucks on the road, or someone making sure products are on the shelves at your local grocery store – those are our people.”

The new campaign is built around positioning the company as that local, family-owned enterprise.

The “Your Local Bottler” campaign targets markets where the company has manufacturing and distribution centres and a total 5,700 employees: Montreal, Brampton, Calgary and British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. And it is sharing inspiring stories and the diverse voices of employees from these key markets.

We often say our people are our DNA,” Parsons maintains, adding that they are Coke Canada Bottling’s best ambassadors. This campaign is also an opportunity to recognize the efforts of its hard-working teams across the country.

And as companies big and small grapple with recruitment challenges, the campaign – featuring the tagline “love where you live, and work” – is also running on LinkedIn, reaching an audience that may be interested in joining the team.

The brand is leveraging the proximity of high-profile OOH to its facilities and the geo-targeting benefits of LinkedIn “to be as local, targeted and consistent as possible,” Parsons says, and will expand the program in 2022. It’s also conducting direct outreach with stakeholders in the community as well as through localized public relations efforts.

“Our stakeholder audiences are broad and, in our local communities include everyone from potential recruits to community members, suppliers, local officials and customers,” Parsons says.

A number of international CPGs have been finding ways to position themselves as “local” lately, like McCormick subbrand French’s rallying around its made-in-Canada ketchup, or Conagra highlighting that its Gardein products are B.C.-made.

To back up those local connections, last winter, Coke Canada Bottling announced it would be spending $36 million to, in part, expand its facilities in Toronto, enabling it to produce brands like Nestea and Monster in Ontario, rather than importing it from the U.S. Some of that investment also went into expanding the equipment at its Brampton facility to be able to handle more product formats – it previously mainly handled two-litre bottles – as well as adding capacity at a facility outside Montreal.

With The Colony Project taking the lead on execution, “Your Local Bottler” will be in-market for four weeks.