Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign has been running off-and-on in some fashion since the idea was first formed in Sydney in 2011. The concept was to replace the Coca-Cola logo on cans of Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero – arguably one of the most recognized logos on the face of the planet – with 150 of the most popular names in Australia. The campaign struck a nerve that would eventually expand to over 70 countries and over 500k names. Customers were encouraged to share photos of their experience on Twitter, and the campaign capitalized on a global trend of self-expression and sharing, with Coca-Cola’s natural knack for striking a deep emotional cord through it all. This is a case study that is fascinating for it’s fantastical success, but also to see how the idea grew and expanded over time.
What to Learn
- ig Things Have Small Beginnings: This 7+ year campaign, with the incredible results listed below, started in an 150-word brief in the Sydney Coca-Cola office. This 150-word brief ballooned into one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.
- How to Make Customers Feel Famous: Coca-Cola recruited their fans and made them the face of their iconic brand. They would literally put your name in lights in Time Square. Sure, they didn’t have the go as far as Starbucks did in letting customers doodle all over their brand. However, in a Coca-Cola, brand-friendly (and every name vetted 1,000 times way), Coca-Cola made their customers feel the spotlight… and it felt good.
- How to Let a Campaign Build on it’s Own: When the campaign started in Australia, they put the Coke cans in stores and (according to Coca-Cola) did nothing else. They allowed several weeks of customers participating – posting photos to Twitter and social media stores – before they officially unveiled the campaign. While this may be more difficult for smaller brands to emulate (or simply inadvisable to do so), it was a certain level of confidence and bravado to launch in this way.
UGC Type Photos of customer's personalized Cokes on Instagram & Twitter
Duration 7+ years (off-and-on)
Campaign Date 2011 (first iteration)
Incentives No incentive
6-MONTH AUSTRALIA RESULTS
- 7% increase in young adult consumption
- 5% more people drinking coke
- 3% increase in sales transactions
- 4% increase in volume
- 870% increase in Facebook traffic
- 12,020,000 earned media impressions
- 76k virtual coke cans shared
- 378k extra coke cans printed at kiosks
- 330 million impressions on Twitter
- 170,000 tweets from 160,000 fans.
- 2 out of 5 Australians bought a Share a Coke pack
SINCE 2012 LAUNCH
- Over a thousand names on our bottles
- 998 million impressions on Twitter
- 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag
- More than 150 million personalized bottles sold
- More than 70 countries have launched the campaign
- Coke picked up seven awards at the 2012 Cannes Lions festival
- A 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues.
Examples of Content Produced
This is a tough one – it’s an incredible campaign, but the User Generated Content aspect seems to be a side part to this story. Most of the examples we posted were from official Coca-Cola commercials or quasi-propoganda. The User Generated Content we did find on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest wasn’t all that compelling. It was either of the Coke bottle (or usually multiple ones together), the Coke bottle with a person in a selfie (we’re assuming that was his or her name), or of graffitied bottles to make crude statements (there were surprisingly – or not so surprisingly – lots of these).
What we do love about this campaign is how it EXPLODED from the inauspicious beginnings of a 150 word brief in the Sydney Coca-Cola office. So all you Junior Social Media Marketing Managers out there reading this – take heart! Your crumpled, hastily scribbled suggestion placed in the suggestion box could go a long, long way.
In 2011, Marketing Director Lucie Austin and Creative Excellence Lead Jeremy Rudge – who were planning Coca-Cola’s summer campaign – came up with the idea in the Sydney offices. Lucie said, “The campaign capitalized on the global trend of self-expression and sharing, but in an emotional way. Coke is big enough to pull off an idea like this, which speaks to the iconic nature of the brand. Who would want their name on a brand unless it was as iconic as Coke?”
What we find so compelling is the dozens (and dozens of dozens) of hurdles (and tunnels, and hoola-hoops, and Iron Man Triathalons) this little idea had to go through to come to life. Imagine a brand like Coca-Cola letting their logo – one of the most iconic on the planet – be replaced by the names of their fans. As they explain in the first video above, there were trademark issues, multiple risk assessment meetings, 4,000 hours talking to Coca-Cola stakeholders individually, 225 trademark searches around names, profanity filters (50-60 pages of profanity, where 50% of all words people wanted needed to be blocked) and more.
The campaign started with 150 of the most common names in Australia, which were printed on Coca-Cola bottle labels and, without fanfare, placed in stores. This is the point where Australian Coca-Cola executives – we imagine – held their breath for several weeks and maybe floated a resume on Monster.com. They didn’t officially announce the campaign, but observed what happened on social media. And – because the idea was so fantastic – the ball started to roll on it’s own. Customers discovered the bottles and posted them in photos on social media sites.
After several weeks of waiting, Coca-Cola announced the campaign and started to encourage customers to submit their own photos on social media sites. Now, as a Public Service Announcement, we do not in any way, shape, or form EVER encourage a company to run a campaign without an incentive. However, if you’re Coca-Cola… you can write your own rules. But until you have their (1) brand recognition, and (2) social following, do not try this at home.
From those 150 initial names, people on social media started requesting more names. The Australia office was all over this – they had setup physical kiosks in crowded areas, where you could get any [pre-approved[ name printed on a can right then and there. The queues (I think they call lines “queues” in Australia) were around the block as people waiting to get their name on a can (or waited to try to slide some innuendo by them… there were a few!).
Coca-Cola continued to utilize social media deftly as they expanded. They opened up a contest where people could vote on who they wanted to share a Coke with. Over 65k votes were submitted, which lead to another 50 names released to stores.
With a campaign that’s run as long as this one has, many a trick was tried. You could send virtual Cokes online; you could order Cokes with additional name online as well. This has expanded to over 70 countries and there have been proposals (and maybe a few unpublished divorces) that were forged via personalized Coke cans. Each time this campaign has been relaunched it has grown bigger – with more names and a higher impact. The initial 150 names that started in Australia have grown to over 500k names.
The results above speak for themselves, but we love how a scrappy team in Sydney raised the bar for User Generated Content lovers everywhere.