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AdAsia 2011 Day 2: Joseph Tripodi on how brand Coke remains relevant over time

Prasoon Joshi quizzes Tripodi on the brand’s strategy, the ‘Think liquid and linked’ London Olympics campaign, and the campaign to save polar bears

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 3, 2011

Joseph Tripodi, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company along with session anchor Prasoon Joshi, Chairman & CEO, McCann Worldgroup India, ECD, McCann Erickson, APAC Region and Chairperson, McCann Global Creative Council discuss the New Rules of Engagement

The second day of AdAsia 2011 started with a bang with a session on ‘Marketing 3.0 – New rules of engagement’. When one talks about the future and that too in the sphere of marketing, there are bound to be references from the past. Joseph Tripodi, Executive VP & Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, started off by talking about brand Coca-Cola of the past and how it continues to connect with audiences. He even pointed out that in Mexico two Coca-Cola products are used every day!

He also shared that Coke wants to double its business and double its growth in the next decade but in a sustainable way. “You can’t do one and not do the other as society will not allow that anymore. We have to be great storytellers as marketers and that is what we do, but we also have to do it with scale, particularly in today’s world when stories spread fast and travel far. We have to be timeless but also have relevance. Consumers are smart, they can see when the company is trying to pretend or be false cool,” said Tripodi.

According to him, Coca-Cola has managed to garner the love of its patrons because it has managed to have both brand love and brand value, and the company plans to continue on the same track. He then showed some of the globally successful campaigns of Coca-Cola including the K’Naan’s Waving Flag campaign that was deployed at FIFA 2010. Tripodi mentioned that this song was an instant chartbuster and brought a lot of brand connect for the company.

Tripodi then went on to talk about the campaign that went on air earlier this week in the USA about the ‘Arctic Home’. It is one of the CSR initiatives of The Coca-Cola Company to save the home of polar bears, and to support the cause, Coca-Cola cans are going white in colour from the traditional red. Additionally, even the bottle caps of Coca-Cola have been changed to white and the company is asking consumers to send in a SMS with a $1 donation to participate in the cause.

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Shedding more light on the campaign, Tripodi said that the company had picked up the concept of micro donations from the Haiti earthquake relief fund where micro donations were very popular. Under the Arctic Home drive about 1.4 billion cans will undergo a change in colour and based on the learning, Coca-Cola will consider launching country specific campaigns in the near future.

From the present scenario, Tripodi shifted gears into the future. Coca-Cola is the official sponsor of Olympics 2012 and the company has been deliberating on how it could best use this property for business. The company plans to launch the ‘Think liquid and linked’ campaign. He even showcased a glimpse of what they were planning to do through this campaign.

At this stage it was the turn of Prasoon Joshi, Chairman & CEO, McCann Worldgroup India and ECD, McCann Erickson, APAC Region and Chairperson, McCann Global Creative Council, to join Tripodi on stage and engage in a question and answer session.

The very first question that Joshi posed was that Coke appeared to be trying to get into a conversation mode through its ‘Think liquid and linked’ campaign, and though the company has created popular culture in the past, it has also tried to ride the popular culture as well. So what is prompting it to get on the creation mode this time around?

Tripodi answered that most large companies tend to be very conservative. It is very difficult for large companies to be bold and disruptive because people are inherently very conservative and resist taking risk. “To counter this, Coke has the philosophy of 70:20:10, in which 70 per cent of the dollars are put on things that they know usually work, 20 per cent to innovate, and the balance 10 per cent is for taking some risk and challenges. So it is about being the leadership brand expressing itself and having the confidence to take risk,” he explained.

Joshi pointed out that in this strategy there’s sometimes a chance that people don’t like it – “when you completely own a property then people at times become sensitive about the same, so how should one loosely own the creative things?” Tripodi agreed with Joshi and said there is a need for balance. He added, “One of the best examples of this is how we think about social media particularly on our presence on Facebook. Several years ago, the company was very sensitive about the brand but our philosophy has now changed. We have 35 million fans on Facebook but we don’t own them, so it is about keeping that distance and having that self-confidence. One needs to understand that consumers now own the brand and we do not want to make it overly commercial and turn people off.”

Lastly, Joshi asked whether Coca-Cola will be looking at launching any India specific flavours like Coca-Cola Masala to cater to the Indian palate. Tripodi said that he always looked at launching new flavours and had nothing against that, but such launches will not be as a Coke brand. The company would consider launching a new flavour only as a new brand or through other brands. He also mentioned that brand Fanta brand had 15 flavours available in Mexico.

The presentation ended with some of the iconic Coca-Cola India commercial of recent times.

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