Friday, October 3, 2014

Did you buy a Coke this summer with your name on it?

After decades declines in the U.S., sales of Coca-Cola Co's carbonated beverages rose by more than 2% this summer.  Why?  Customized bottles and cans.  Specifically, the company put the 250 most popular names for teens and millennials on bottles which they encouraged people to buy for others with their "Share a Coke" campaign.

Additionally the company deployed roving kiosks across the U.S. this summer which printed out more than 1 million personalized cans with more than 100,000 names to choose from.  (Esterl, 2014)

The idea for the campaign came from Australia and was developed by local execs and Ogilvy advertising in 2011 as a way to re-engage younger consumers.  The seasonal campaign has now spread to over 80 countries and is likely to be back again next year.

So what do you think of this idea?  Did you buy a Coke with your name on it?  Would you if you had been given the chance?

Esterl, M. (2014, September 26)  'Share a Coke' Creates Pop in Sales.  Wall Street Journal.  pB5


  1. My previous comment just disappeared! Anywho, I couldn't find a Coke with "Rory" on it (which is OK because I'm used the the heartbreak of not seeing my name on those little novelty license plates), but I did purchase a "Dad" Coke for irony. The numbers tell the story--this campaign was effective. However, wasn't the campaign about *sharing* a Coke? I wonder how many people actually bought Coke for others. ...Aren't millennials supposed to be selfish and narcissistic? Hmm... ;)

  2. I'm a brand loyal Coke drinker and "Roderick" is a long name to put on a can (didn't expect to find it) so this campaign didn't affect me as much as I think it did for new drinkers. I will say though, the "naming" of the cans gave each can a "personality" and personalized the drinking experience. The names also gave the new drinker a sense of ownership. As I walk around my office and see Coke cans with names of the cubicle dweller I think people just like seeing their names on stuff in a way how we all browse through the name magnets at the drug store or at an amusement park. They can's also make great collectibles if you are into that kind of thing.

  3. I am not a brand loyal coke drinker, any day I rather pick Pepsi over Coke, and I don't fit within the target audience age for this campaign, and my name, (which is a mouthful) was not among the chosen 250 names by Coke, (there are your three reasons) actually bought not one but several of these customized bottles and cans this summer! Why? Of course for my several friends and co-workers, to make them feel special, surprise them, make them feel important. I first spotted these, at a train station and picked up for a colleague, the look on his face seeing his own Coke bottle made me feel very happy, and prompted me to buy these for others too.
    I think campaign is successful, because it made me buy Coke, someone who is not their brand loyalist, not within their demographics of target audience and lastly whose name is not common enough to be added into their selection.

  4. I am a loyal Coca-Cola customer, so I do not believe this particular campaign affected me at all. Also being in my mid-30's I am not sure I would be in this campaign's particular target audience.

    However first time I saw a few cans written with something else but Coca-Cola was online last year. The campaign was running in Brazil and at first I thought it was a mere Facebook Application. People were taking countless pictures and tagging themselves on social media, in particular teenagers and young adults in their 20's. It became a sort of game, even a treasure hunt for awkward names.

    What people are not always aware is that they were doing a free publicity of Coca-Cola colors, layout and more important its symbolism, no matter what was witten in these cans. These unique attributes are 'grounded' unconsciously in people's minds. So even if the bottle or can has the following "The More 'Pepsi', The Better" (see link, what your brain will understand is 'Coca-Cola', because of the colors, the arrangement of letters and the symbolism this bottle or can would carry.

  5. I was a loyal Coca-Cola customer in the past. The wave of healthy lifestyle hit me very hard and Coca-Cola had to be leaved aside. Even though this campaign didn't make me buy coke, apparently it made many close friends of mine that usually wont dink coke, buy. I realize it because of the amount of Facebook pictures I saw every day, of friends of mine happy with their Coca-Cola bottle with their name´s tag on it.

    I think it was a huge success, not only because it actually increases sales but also because it helped with the awareness of the brand in a prominent "healthy lifestyle" generation, due to the target of the campaign. The fact that many people posted pictures of the bottle with theirs name´s tag on it helped more people to get involved and exposed to the campaign, just as me. And now that I really think what would I do if I am thirsty and open a freezer and I see my girlfriends name on a Coca-Cola bottle, maybe I would buy it just for fun.

    Back in Colombia I remember hundreds of stores displaying a note in the door of the freezer saying "Don't disorder the freezer trying to find the Coca-Cola with your name´s tag, don't be ridiculous" and it was something hilarious to see and also evidence that it was a huge campaign. I believe that they even didn’t use as many resources in this ad as in other campaigns, and that was the beauty of it, people was the one that actually spread the word and promote the campaign. That from a economic point of view is a homerun.


  6. I think Coca Cola did a great job with this campaign taking a shot at a more kind of silent branding, as you mentioned it seems as they didn´t use as many resources, and I think Coke is aming for people to think that, and to appear not to take itself too seriously.
    I don´t always analize advertising strategies or the goals behind brands campaigns, but the moment I saw this campaign, how they decided to remove their logo to place names, I thought it was genius.

  7. I am not a Coke drinker ( gave up soda years ago). I remember vaguely hearing about the campaign this summer, but did not go out and seek a can of Coke as a result. In fact, I didn't even run into a can with a name on it. That said, I completely understand the appeal of this marketing campaign.

    On an emotional level, it is genius. The cans of coke printed for the campaign were literally calling out to the consumer "Hey look! This Coke has YOUR name on it!" A personal cry to buy. For the sheer novelty of the gimmick I am not surprised the campaign was successful. As I said, I did not seek out a coke, but if I had run into one that had my name...I probably would have bought it ( and this is from a declared non soda drinker). That said, I would have bought ONE coke, maybe another if I found one with a friend's name ( it was the "share a coke campaign" after all). I would not have suddenly become a coke drinker.

    Overall I would say the campaign seems to have been successful in driving Coke drinkers to seek those special cans( and buy more coke in the process) over the summer. It likely brought in some non coke drinkers too who, like me, might have been drawn to the novelty of finding a can of coke with their own name, or the name of a friend/loved one. Still, I can't imagine that the campaign brought into the fold many new Coke drinkers who will become repeat customers once the names are all gone.


  8. Coke did a good job on this campaign in my country, Thailand. People got excited when they knew that they can have their names or their special person's names on a can. Unbelievably, this emotional marketing is effective since it turns a mass consumer product like Coke to a mass customized product. A couple weeks after this campaign was launched, people most likely bought Coke as a gift. That's to say they no longer buy Coke for its functional benefit (to drink) but they buy this beverage for an emotional benefit such as to feel special, cool and unique.


  9. They didn’t make this promo in Ukraine, where I live. But when I was in Poland, I tried to find a bottle with my name on it, but in wain. I’ve searched for it in several stores and spent like half an hour. And in the end I’ve bought Mountain Dew, because I didn’t feel like buying Coke with someone else’s name on it.

  10. I don’t drink any carbonated drinks. But someone knows my name! A can of soda with my name on it has an instant emotional connect with me. I will be rooting for it and would want it be liked and successful. Even though it is non-serious, I will be curious to know how my bottle is doing vis-à-vis others.

    Teenagers are a good target audience for such a campaign as this the time when they are trying to figure out and establish their identities. A can of personalized soda can become a tool of self-expression, an icebreaker, a conversation starter. This campaign has an emotional connect that gives us that warm fuzzy feeling which will last long after the fizz of the cola has gone flat.

    Anu Sinha

  11. Although I'm a coke drinker I remember going to stores and spending several minutes trying to find my name in the cans or bottles. However, I didn't find it I was still looking for it. Also I bought for friends and family if a could find their names.
    I think this was a very effective campaign to engage not only current customers but also potential ones.