Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign was pure marketing genius. Coke banked on the idea that people find personalization downright irresistible. After fighting a shaky start, through integrated marketing techniques, the Coke brand successfully infiltrated social media, retail spaces, and outdoor marketing with its personalized paraphernalia.
The “Share a Coke” campaign featured personalized Coke bottles and cans with the top 250 most popular teen and millennial names in the U.S. The personalization went beyond names and included popular jargon used by the millennial demographic, including “Bestie” and “Wingman.”
This type of campaign was first introduced in Australia in 2011, and the campaign saw massive success with a 7% increase in Coke consumption. With the success of the campaign down undah, U.S. Coke finally decided to give the campaign a try in the states for the first time in June, 2014. The campaign is currently being phased out, but there are whispers of plans to rerun the campaign every summer.
In the past several years, Coke (and all other soda manufacturers) has seen declining sales due to the increased popularity of bottled water and low-calorie sports drinks. However, with the introduction of the “Share a Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola was able to break the downward trend. Thanks to the campaign, the company saw a 2.5% increase in total sales and soft-drink volume went up by 0.4%. The numbers show that people love to see their names on branded products.
The campaign also created a gift-giving dynamic which further encouraged the collectability of Coke products. People would scour retail locations and even resort to eBay in the hopes of finding their name or a friend’s name on a Coke bottle. The Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most iconic designs in the world, and there is a real wonder for people to see their names on an iconic image.
Social media played a huge role in the success of the campaign. When people were successful in finding their name on a bottle, they were encouraged to share their find on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. This sharing behavior acted as an organic means of spreading brand awareness throughout social media platforms. Friends would see each other finding their names, enjoying a Coke product, and they would be inclined to interact with the brand, and so on.
The campaign went beyond customized bottles. Coke created interactive billboards and websites as well as traveling kiosks where people could get more unique named Coke products. The integrated marketing technique using several avenues created a Jackson-Pollock effect that (successfully) splattered the campaign on every available surface. The integrated marketing created a cohesive message that was available on every communication channel.
The main lesson to be learned from the success of Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign: people love personalized products when it is unexpected. For Coke to print bottles with someone’s name on it makes that person feel special and appreciated. Of course consumers will take the extra step to seek out the product featuring their name, and while they are at it, they will buy bottles for their friends, and why not post pictures to Instagram as well? The campaign created an organic domino effect that helped the campaign gain traction and noticeably increase sales for Coke.
Coke plans to take on more adventurous marketing campaigns. There are plans for a campaign featuring an auto-generated design printed on bottles. Read more about this campaign in our blog.