Fizzy drink giant Coca Cola celebrated its 125th anniversary on May 8th. The celebration was indeed an excellent example of global media communications.
Aside from using its 26 storey building as a giant projection screen on its home town of Atlanta, Coke’s anniversary was homeaged by its fans world wide through social media and youtube. Coca Cola has 26 million ‘friends’ on its facebook page. In London too you can see the posters of its anniversary on the M4.
Michael Donnelly, group director WW Interactive Marketing, The Coca Cola Company presented at the Festival of Media in Montreux showing how the company, although global has a local approach to its fans. “Coke’s fans are the best supporters of the brand. We don’t intrude in the way they express themselves, we go in and listen to their conversation but not in a BIG company manner. We are not longer in control of the message.”
Coke is, no doubt one of the most iconic brands of our times. People identify with it and its unmistakable logo can be read by children before they learn the alphabet. For the anniversary, the company also open its doors to show all its memorabilia through out its history. Posters, cards, glasses, all manner of collective items were open to the public at its headquarters. They also invited fans to share what they have on their personal collections via the internet.
John Pemberton, a chemist from Atlanta, Georgia, created the formula for Coca-Cola in May 1886 when he took a caramel-coloured liquid he’d put together down to Jacobs Pharmacy, where fizzy water is added. Frank Robinson, Pemberton’s book-keeper, names the drink Coca-Cola and writes it up in a formula that is still used today. Pemberton, who died in 1888, did not reap any of the commercial benefits from his invention.
By the middle of the First World War, the company decided on the design of the coke bottle by holding a public competition (an early form of experimental social marketing). It’s logo, image and message relating to having fun together, has not changed much in 125 years. Coke’s global success is undoubtedly a great example of the right kind of communication at all levels.