Is that a Coke with a smile?

Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- Email to a friend 0 Flares ×



The recent announcement that Coca Cola is spearheading an anti obesity campaign in Canada seems to have raised both eyebrows and blood pressure all at once.

I can understand why. The bulk of comments are coming from the anti sugar brigade in the medical/nutrition arena. But let’s consider if this is actually an effective response.

To do that objectively, we need to put the medical facts aside for a moment and look at the landscape here. Medics spend a very long time studying medicine. Coca Cola spends a very long time studying marketing.

Coca Cola has not stepped into the medical world here. Au contraire! They have very deftly invited their detractors onto their own, very familiar commercial turf. They control the playing field.

Here’s why.

You can be very sure indeed that Coca Cola’s announcement has been analysed to gauge the commercial, social and psychological impact it will have for a company that views ANY beverage as competition.

If I were advising Coca Cola, my advice would be very simple.

Ignore them.

Their comments are uncoordinated. Their thoughts are collective but their action is not. They lack finance and strategy. Their response is the commercial equivalent of a tickle. Have a Coke and a smile. Impact on quarterly sales? NIL.

They will be buried at source.

While the internet may offer anyone the opportunity to voice an opinion, tweeting one’s thoughts and linking out to the official Coca Cola press release somewhere is all well and good, but that can actually ADD weight to the original release where it matters most – on internet search engines!

An army of well meaning medical commentators, however derogatory, consistent and accurate their opinions might be, are no match for the well oiled Coca Cola behemoth. The audience they reach are already on board with the notion that sugar is seriously damaging. Coke does not lose business so Coke does not care.

In the referred to press release, Coca Cola pitches the message of nutritional “balance” – and they do so brilliantly and believably.  I absolutely disagree with what they are saying, but as a marketer I can appreciate the efficacy of the strategy they are rolling out.

On the other hand, the anti sugar brigade does not exist in any formal capacity so they can only communicate as individual persons. This is inefficient for a whole host of reasons.

The real war on sugar will not be won or lost in a lab. It must be fought on Big Food’s turf. And that is no place for a medic, however brilliant.

If I was advising the anti sugar brigade?

Formally register a non profit organization. Call it “NO SODA.”

Announce a heavyweight board with representation from the 5 continents. Raise funds directly via the internet. This way you get to create and control your own news. Just like Coke ;)

Focus all resources into winning the support of one global megastar (more will follow ‘cos that’s just what they do), then hit Big Soda and Big Food where it hurts – in the hearts and minds of teenage kids.

A world famous athlete or rock star endorsing a well financed “No Soda” campaign is more kidney punch than tickle. Expect reports of elevated blood pressure readings in the Atlanta region. And emergency calls to the PR advisors.

Updated advice to Coke?

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem. The biggest rock star in the world is endorsing the “NO SODA” campaign.

Jesus H. I thought they were just a bunch of medics and journos!!

They were. But not any more.

Impact on quarterly sales? DAMAGING.

The individual tweets, blogs and analyses of well intentioned medics and thought leaders are important. But the teenagers ain’t listenin yet.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>