Coca-Cola's Jon Woods: 'Brands should have a point of view on social issues'
A view from Jon Woods

Coca-Cola's Jon Woods: 'Brands should have a point of view on social issues'

Coca-Cola GB & Ireland general manager Jon Woods shares what he has learned about business, brands and inspiration.

Continue to invest with a positive lens. Despite economic downturns and cycles, investment is still key. Seeing the world through a glass-half-full lens, Coca-Cola continues to invest across marketing, people and commercial operations. Brands can play as big a role in people’s lives when times are tough as well as when they are good.

A little happiness goes a long way. Marketing has the power to promote positive change, and brands have the opportunity and responsibility to create change for the better. Storytelling can build emotional connections and align brand values and ideals that matter to people. Coca-Cola’s foundations are built on happiness and optimism, and we continue to bring this to people’s lives – whether it be by discovering a surprise vending machine or finding a Coke bottle with your name on it.

Use your brand for positive change. Brands should have a point of view on social issues and use the brand voice to shine a light on a subject, cause or belief. At Coke, we encourage our consumers to lead healthy lifestyles, whether it is through our long-standing support of the Olympic Movement or our involvement with the UK charity StreetGames.

Find the best talent in your industry. It is important to work with great people, across both brand and agency partners. Seek out those who share your vision and can stretch you in a positive way.

You must believe in what your brand stands for. It’s difficult to work for a brand whose values you don’t believe in. Recently, I went out sampling for our "Share a Coke" campaign. The consumer response to the brand was enthusiasm and a smile. It reminded me of how fantastic it is to work for a brand that spreads optimism time and time again – a rare quality.

A global brand needs to have local relevance. Consumers are changing the way they interact with brands. The digital revolution means they are consuming media in a very different way, and want to personalise it and have their say.

Look outside your industry. Don’t get sidetracked by the activity of competitors. You need to focus on your own business, ambitions and values, and execute the best marketing campaigns you can. I am also inspired by brands and campaigns from unexpected places. Marketers should be always open to change and different ways of thinking.

Be bold. Every calorie counts in the fight against obesity, and Coca-Cola recently used TV to address the number of calories in a can of Coke. It’s 139 – less than an average chocolate bar or a croissant.

Get out of your comfort zone. We follow a 70:20:10 approach to marketing. Seventy per cent of our activity will run through tested methods that are clear on ROI, 20% is innovation taken from a proven base and 10% is put behind new ideas. Some of our most successful campaigns have been driven by that final 10%.

Making your brand relevant. Consumers are now engaged with media and interact with brands in a new ways, and it is important to engage with them on platforms they regularly use. It is no longer about pushing information out to people, as it is now necessary to engage them in two-way conversations and create content and experiences that they want to share with their friends across the world.

Agility can set you apart from the pack. I am inspired by brands that have an agile approach to marketing. Tapping into a relevant cultural notion, leading a trend and sparking debate among consumers is a skill any creative marketer needs to hone.