Opinion: Coca-Cola needs to find more magic to stay cool

Coca-Cola has packaged its new advertising campaign as some kind of brave new strategy, but in no way does it mark a return to the kind of maverick marketing that built the red-and-white livery into one of the world’s best-known brands.

Coca-Cola has packaged its new advertising campaign as some kind of

brave new strategy, but in no way does it mark a return to the kind of

maverick marketing that built the red-and-white livery into one of the

world’s best-known brands.



The new strategy will see a change in strapline from ’always’ to ’enjoy’

and a shift of the company’s near-pounds 1 billion global adspend

towards local advertising - or so it claims. Although local agencies

have been consulted on the campaign, Leo Burnett and Edge Creative have,

effectively, come up with a template, which local agencies can tweak as

necessary. This hardly amounts to the abandonment of global campaigns

that Coca-Cola is claiming. The vice-like grip of Atlanta seems to have

been camouflaged rather than loosened.



The new campaign is designed to convey a sense of magic, but it has met

with a lukewarm response in the US, where it launched last week.

Insiders say the magic of Coca-Cola is less apparent in this work than

in, say, the existing Christmas campaign.



The work breaks at a crucial moment for Coke. Its new head, Douglas

Daft, has shifted the author of the new advertising strategy, Charles

Frenette, to run the company’s troubled European outfit and installed a

new global marketing head, Steve Jones. Frenette’s move is seen neither

as a demotion nor a promotion, but it hardly represents a vote of

confidence from Daft in the new ad strategy.



Meanwhile, Coke’s share price is underperforming. The brand is far and

away the leader in the cola market - but the sector as a whole is

overpriced.



It is going to take brave marketing, for which Coke used to be known, to

gain share.



However, since the fiasco of the launch of New Coke in 1985, and the

resulting launch of Classic Coke in the same year, the company has

lacked the courage to take risks - the ’enjoy’ campaign ran for an

uneventful seven years. But risks are necessary if the company is going

to turn around its flagging performance.



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