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Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Social & Mobile


Advertising: A Look Advertising at Coca-Cola

An insight into Coca-Cola's branding and advertising through the years, from the company's inception to present day. Attention is given on traditional advertising and new media advertising. Coke's "Ahh Effect" and "Chok" campaigns are examined as well.

By Matt Meier

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.
Andy Warhol (O'Guinn, Allen, & Semenik, 2012, p. 132) Warhol described Coke as being universal regardless who purchased the product; whether you were rich or poor, a king or homeless, a Coke was still going to be the same Coke as the guy next to you. This was, and still remains, the products greatest strength to this day. It is said that the word Coke is the second most recognized English word in the world, second only to okay. People recognize Coca-Cola (or Coke) around the world and know what it is and what it will taste like when they pop open a bottle. How is this possible? No one product has ever had such a worldwide appeal except for Coke. The only way for Coca-Cola to have reached this level is through that beautiful democratic art that Warhol was implying: advertising.

Pharmacist John Pemberton threw together a concoction one day in 1886 and began selling the fountain beverage at Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. The drink went for five cents a glass and was marketed under the name Coca-Cola, written in a distinctive script by Pemberton. Intrepid businessman Asa G. Candler new exactly how to market this product and quickly began putting the brand image out on certificates, calendars, clocks, and other goods (Coca-Cola, 2011) (Coca-Cola Company, 2013).

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Certificate for a free Coke, circa late 1800s.

1901 Coca-Cola calendar.

Coca-Cola did break into newspapers early on as well, featuring a simple ad with only text, sans images.

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Early Coca-Cola newspaper advertisement.

The golden era of radio advertising began in earnest in 1922 with the first radio commercial coming out of WEAF in New York City, which advertised apartment housing in the city (Library of Congress). Coca-Cola would not jump into radio until 1930, when they began Coca-Cola Top Notchers, a live (later syndicated) program that looked at the biggest sports stars of the day. (The Digital Deli Online) Ad agency DArcy worked with Coca-Cola from its earliest years and into the 1950s. As television began to rise in prominence in the early 50s, the agency began developing spots for television. DArcy was not quite sure how to approach the new media, so they resorted to developing a few concepts for advertisement, including a stop motion animation featuring Coke bottles (Library of Congress, 2013).

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

DArcy TV commercial concepts for Coke.

Coca-Colas presence on television did not begin until their account went with the McCann-Erickson agency, who quickly took reign on the emerging new media. Beginning in the later 50s, McCann began churning on stellar campaigns for Coke, including the worldappealing Things Go Better With Coke. Coca-Colas international hit Id Like to Buy the World a Coke put the brand through the stratosphere, and Cokes Mean Joe Greene literally established the big time Super Bowl commercials known through today (Awful Announcing, 2009) (Library of Congress) (Ryan, 2012) (RIEGER, 2010).

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

The famous Coke hilltop commercial.

Mean Joe Greene in a famous Coke Super Bowl commercial.

Coca-Cola continues exerting a strong, traditional media presence today, annually featuring images of polar bears, Santa Clause, and one-off specials often screened before theatrical films (goalstopper, 2013) (Dawar, 2011) (Rawls, 2009).

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013



Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Coca-Cola has focused primarily on the individual in many of their campaigns through traditional media. An oft-sighted brand image of Coke includes Enjoy Coke, which is typically directed towards one person. This approach that Coca-Cola has stuck with for over 100 years reflects the words Andy Warhol once said, that regardless of economic background, anyone anywhere can enjoy the exact same Coke (Coster & Noterman, 2008).

"Enjoy Coca-Cola" is an oft seen piece of marketing for Coke.

As Coca-Cola became an international brand in the late 1960s, the company began focusing their efforts on a worldwide scale. The previously mentioned Id Like to Buy the World a Coke sought to bring an international appeal for the brand. The song itself was later rerecorded as I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony), which quickly became a Top 10 hit (Ryan, 2012). Coke has established a very loyal fan base of drinkers and admirers of the brands appearance on merchandise. Perhaps the Coca-Colas greatest misstep occurred in the 1980s with the release of New Coke. The company attempted to release a sweeter version of its beverage, but faced significant national backlash at the change (Time, 2013). Coca-Cola had severely miscalculated their brand loyalty and were forced to eventually backtrack to the original Coke formula (O'Guinn, Allen, & Semenik, 2012, p. 176). Coca-Cola continues to personify itself on a personal level, appealing to a persons emotions of good feelings and positive memories. The brands success can be measured in dollars, with an estimated value of $70 billion, making it the most valuable brand in the world (circa 2009) (O'Guinn, Allen, & Semenik, 2012, p. 23).



Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

The 21st century has completely changed the world of advertising and the way brands communicate with its target audience. The rise of social media and mobile connectivity now allow for a majority of people to communicate instantly and access literally any information while on the go. Advertisers are now shifting their efforts from traditional media to this new media; 82% of advertisers intending to focus heavily on mobile media, for example (eMarketer, 2013). Coca-Cola jumped at the opportunity to take on mobile and social advertising with glee in 2011. Their efforts focused on the teen market of Hong Kong, China and proved to be wildly successful beyond expectations. Coke developed a commercial for the region and built a campaign around the word chok, meaning rapid motion in the regional language. The word was a recent slang word developed by Hong Kongs youth, so Coca-Cola focused their efforts on marketing around this hip new word. They developed an iPhone app that was used to catch flying Coke bottle caps during the television commercial; users would rapidly move their iPhone around to catch the caps from the TV. These caps could be collected and put towards prizes offered by Coke. The iPhone app became the number one most downloaded app in one day in the local app market and eventually reached 380,000+ downloads in one month. The companion television commercial developed in sync with the app reached a total of nine million views across TV, YouTube, and Weibo. International audiences even took notice of the app craze from Hong Kong and were similarly spoofing the ad to much viewership (Russell, 2013). Coca-Colas more recent efforts include working with agency Wieden+Kennedy to create unique experiences called The Ahh Effect. This campaign focuses primarily on the mobile platforms, but works just as well with desktops. Gaming is a key approach in this campaign and involves user participation. Coke is tapping into the teen demographics love of gaming and is seeking out new game ideas to be used in many different subsections of the Ahh Effect. Each game is set to be unique and is created by a user, who submits the game or gaming concept to Coke to have developed for play. When a submission is approved and developed, the game is a attached to one of the Ahh URLs; each new submission will get an h added onto the Ahh URL, with up to 61 subsections possible by campaigns end. Coca-Cola is reaching out through Facebook and Twitter to help promote this campaign. Users who play the games can also share individual games through Facebook and Twitter, allowing their friends to play as well. The games themselves are casual, similar to popular games frequently featured on mobile platforms, like Android and iOS (Heine, 2013). 9

Matt Meier | 5-20-2013


Coca-Cola is doing the right thing to latch onto mobile and social advertising. The advertising itself is not explicitly advertising in the traditional media sense; rather, this form of new media advertising is more of a brand experience. Coke has developed their brand beyond clocks and calendars and is making the image something that a person can do, making it more than a mere tangible object. With the advent of big social networks, Coca-Cola no longer needs to work to always push the brand image out to a target audience. Experiences such as the Ahh Effect allow users to share games developed for Coke; those experiences are therein shared with others, effectively sharing the brand image of Coke. The effect of this is like a web, with the image being stuck to and shared from user to user to users.


Coca-Cola is a brand through and through with a loyal fan base stretching back for over a century. Brand loyalty runs strong through it all, reaching from the post-WWII era, through the 1950s and 1960s against Pepsi, and to today with polar bears and happy images of enjoyment (O'Guinn, Allen, & Semenik, 2012, p. 92 & 98). The constant theme through all of Cokes campaigns remain a sense of the individual . Late 19th century ads featured people enjoying a simple glass of Coca-Cola, with little pomp and circumstance. Television commercials in the later 20th century focused on a global scale of Cokes image, but still kept the emphasis on the individual. Polar bears became a subject of Coca-Colas marketing efforts, but even bears still showed the personal effect of a bottle of Coke. The new media approach of the Coke brand continues with the individual/personal elements intact. People can now communicate directly with the brand in a vis--vis manner. Cokes image can be shared instantly with millions of people at once, yet still be focused on the one. The circumstances of this are astounding and only show of Coca-Colas appeal towards effective use of advertising. Traditional forms of advertising do continue to exist with Coke. Polar bears are still out there, commercials are still ran, printed materials make an appearance in magazines and the like.


Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Whole collector societies have risen in recent years towards finding and preserving vintage Coca-Cola-branded items, ranging from trays to cars to vending machines (Mooney, 2012). These societies only come to show of Cokes far-reaching brand loyalty, which continues strong after 117 years of existence.


Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Arandilla, R. (2012). Coca-Cola Advertising Through the Years. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from 1st Web Designer: Awful Announcing. (2009, January 22). Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Coke To Recreate "Mean Joe Greene" Ad With Troy Polamalu: Coca-Cola. (2011). Heritage Timeline. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from The Coca-Cola Company: Coca-Cola Company. (2013). Coca Cola Calendar Circa 1901. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Inventors: Coster, W. D., & Noterman, J.-P. (2008). Coke Art Graphic Corner: Free Coca-Cola Vector Art,

Images & Graphics. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from Coca-Cola Art Gallery: Dawar, N. (2011, December 18). Santa Claus, The Real Thing? Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Just Marketing: eMarketer. (2013, February 19). In 2013, Mobile, Social Lead Shift From Traditional Media to

Digital. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from eMarketer: goalstopper. (2013). The Coke Polar Bear. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Fanpop: Heine, C. (2013, April 23). Coke Runs First All-Digital Effort, Focusing on Teens and Mobile. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from AdWeek: Library of Congress. (2013). Coca-Cola TV Ad Concept. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Library of Congress:


Matt Meier | 5-20-2013

Library of Congress. (n.d.). Highlights in the History of Coca-Cola Television Advertising. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Coca-Cola Television Advertising: The D'Arcy Era: Mooney, P. (2012, January 1). Collectors Column: Information for Collectors. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Coca-Cola Journey: O'Guinn, T. C., Allen, C., & Semenik, R. J. (2012). Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion. United States: South-Western Cengage Learning. Rawls. (2009, January 31). Psyop Coke commercial. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from CGHUB: RIEGER, A. R. (2010, April 29). COCA-COLA SUMMIT. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from In A Perfect World: Russell, J. (2013, March 12). This awesome Coca-Cola campaign shows the vast potential of

mobile marketing. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from TNW: Ryan, T. (2012, January 1). The Making of "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke". Retrieved May 20, 2013, from Coca-Cola Journey: The Digital Deli Online. (n.d.). Spotlight on Golden Age Advertising. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from The Digital Deli Online: Time. (2013). New Coke - Top 10 Bad Beverage Ideas. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from,28804,1913612_1913610_1913 608,00.html