Share A Coke: What’s In A Name

By: Sarah Scott

In 2014, Coca-Cola started its Share-A-Coke campaign, which made a great impact not only nationally but globally as well. This campaign had the most common names on each bottle and encouraged people to share Cokes with their friends. The commercial above had one friend in the beginning sharing with one other friend before it grew to two friends then to a whole crowd and ended with the first girl even ending up sharing a Coke with a love interest as well who had been selling them the Cokes. Throughout the ad, you can feel that he wants to be included and finally the girl does bring him with her to the crowd of people who are having fun after giving him a Coke with his name. 

This campaign caused an increase in sales with The Verge stating that the Share-A-Coke campaign caused a .4 percent year over year increase after having 11 years of decreasing sales (D’Orazio, 2014). This may be the result of people loving to have their names on things, but it is also as the result of people being pointed toward sharing it not just with their friends but also on social media. Investopedia talks about how the Share-A-Coke campaign allowed Coca-Cola to connect to their brand on a personal level, caused people to create their own online content, had a good call to action, and the campaign grew (Tarver, 2019). The Guardian also talks about how traffic to Coke’s Facebook page rose 870% (Grimes, 2013). 

The campaign did well not only in the United States, but also in countries like Australia and China. In China, Coca-Cola did a similar thing to what they did in the United States, but instead of names, they put nicknames and unique internet slang with such phrases as “五二一 (521, wǔ èr yī),” which is a number sequence that sounds like the spoken Chinese phrase (wǒ ài nǐ) which is, “I love you.” This allowed Coca-Cola to connect with their Chinese consumer base on a different level. Long (2017) writes in an article on The Drum about how the campaign was meant to target young Chinese consumers, and quotes Cia Hatzi, regional vice president for Coca-Cola, as saying that the campaign has made Coca-Cola stand out among millennials and has been one of the most successful campaigns that they have run. Since the content on the Coke bottle was changed, and the culture of the Chinese people is different, Coca-Cola ran different ads in China, like the commercial on The Drum’s (Long, 2017) page and below.

In McPhail’s (2014, p. 278) Global Communication, he writes about how Nike had to stop airing a commercial that had Lebron James slaying a dragon, which would been seen by the Chinese people as offensive. So, it is important when creating an advertisement that will play in China to know that the content will fit the audience and not be offensive either.

Both of these commercials were more of the bringing people onto the bandwagon type of commercials because they asked people to share the product with each other and on social media. These commercials and the campaign brought a lot of sales and recognition to the Coca-Cola brand through social media and word of mouth tactics. The commercials also played into the wants and cultures of the customers in multiple countries and included their drink as the main thing. This connected the brand to the desires of the customers, made them feel special, and then had a way for them to share the brand and the feeling with others. These other people would then go and share the campaign as well, keeping the campaign in front of as many people as possible.

References 

D’Orazio, D. (2014). Those Coke cans with names on them increased sales for the first time in a decade. Retrieved from: https://www.theverge.com/2014/9/28/6857449/share-a-coke-campaign-increases-coca-cola-sales 

Long, D. (2017). How Coca-Cola is targeting China’s 355 million teens to Share a Coke. Retrieved from: https://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/06/28/how-coca-cola-targeting-chinas-355-million-teens-share-coke 

McPhail, T. L. (2014). Global communication : theories, stakeholders, and trends (4th ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. 

Tarver, E. (2019). Why the ‘Share a Coke’ Campaign Is So Successful. Retrieved from: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/100715/what-makes-share-coke-campaign-so-successful.asp 

Grimes, T. (2013). What the Share a Coke campaign can teach other brands. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2013/jul/24/share-coke-teach-brands 

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