Recognise when it's time for change, says Coca-Cola marketing director
A view from Bobby Brittain

Recognise when it's time for change, says Coca-Cola marketing director

It's no coincidence that Coca-Cola has been around for so long. We listen to our consumers and constantly evolve as a result, writes Coke GB's marketing director.

Compromise doesn’t work

You must always have your audience in mind when developing a new marketing campaign and stay true to that throughout the process.

Some of our most recent Coca-Cola campaigns – such as remastering the famous "Hilltop" ad from 1971 to the new "Taste the feeling" work – are examples of focused, targeted creative that knows its audience and doesn’t compromise. This is what makes it powerful, and isn’t something of which a brand should be fearful.

Work with extraordinary people

I have been, and continue to be, lucky enough to work with supremely talented, inspirational and extraordinary people. By surrounding yourself with passionate people who think differently and are willing to challenge you, it ensures that, as a brand, we keep on innovating and creating. It also gets me out of bed in the morning.

Innovation takes many forms

Throughout Coca-Cola’s history, we have evolved, adapted and innovated to ensure we’re keeping ahead of consumer trends. Whether that’s with our packaging, drinks or campaigns – we have always focused on leading the way.

Our product innovation, particularly in recent years, has been significant. In the 1980s, we recognised that there was an increased consumer appetite for new drinks, particularly low-calorie options – so, in 1983, we launched Diet Coke in response to that.

In the past ten years, we’ve launched 28 new or reformulated drinks with low or no sugar. Through product innovation, we’ve been able to refine these recipes over time and respond to changing consumer demands.

We know that millions of people love the taste of Coca-Cola and we’ve worked hard to refine the recipe of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar to match the taste of the original, but without sugar.

Investment commitment is key

Since 2012, our commercial strategy has focused on accelerating the growth of our no-sugar options. But in order to support that commercial strategy, we knew we had to support it through our marketing to actively shape consumer choice and point more people towards no sugar.

That’s why we’re undertaking our biggest sampling activity to support the launch, giving away more than four million drinks around the UK.

Know the difference between heritage and history

Coca-Cola has been around for 130 years and we have spent that time creating a rich heritage, a story that people know and love. As a result, our brand is one of the most recognised around the world. We know how crucial it is to build heritage and make sure it evolves to ensure we maintain relevance.

Over the decades, we’ve focused on building brand equity – consumer demand reflects this. Coca-Cola is bought more frequently than any other brand in the country.

For other brands that haven’t been around for as long as we have, my advice is that it is never too early to start leveraging your heritage. No matter the age of the business, your brand should have a story that consumers can engage with and follow for years to come.

Recognise when it’s time for change

It’s a fascinating time for the Coca-Cola business in the UK. Of course there are external factors at play and the climate in which we are operating is challenging, but we’re not afraid of change. It’s no coincidence that Coca-Cola has been around for so long – we listen to our consumers and constantly evolve as a result.

For the first time in our history, we have moved away from a multi-brand to a onebrand strategy. We have united four distinct brands under the umbrella of Coca-Cola, making it clear to consumers the full choice we offer them.

It’s one of the most important projects I’ve overseen in my time as marketing director, and it’s exciting to see how that changes things as well as the extra creative legroom it provides us with.

Bobby Brittain is marketing director at Coca-Cola Great Britain, looking after brands including Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt. He has overseen the introduction of the company's one-brand strategy and this summer's Coca-Cola Zero Sugar launch.