Call me a cynic, but I wasn’t impressed when I first saw Coke’s new advertising campaign. ‘Share a Coke with a friend? Huh,’ I thought, ‘that’s never going to work. Who wants to share a Coke? What’s the point of telling people to buy a Coke to share instead of one each?’ Surely this was going to backfire hugely.
Instead it has been incredibly successful. Partly because I was right, people don’t share a Coke with their friend, but when they find one with their friend’s name on they will at the very least take a photo of it. These photos will then be texted, tweeted, Instagrammed and Facebooked, reaching a wider and wider audience. If marketing is about getting your product in front of people’s eyes, I’d say these guys were making a pretty good stab of it.
More than just taking and sharing photos, though, people are actually buying the product, too. Several of my friends have done this, either drinking the Coke and giving the friend the empty bottle or actually buying a bottle they never intended to and giving it as a gift. Over the course of a few weeks, one friend managed to find every name in her office. She took pictures of her colleagues with the bottles and posted a collage of them all on twitter.
Maybe all those purchases were ones she would have made anyway, but at the very least it brought Coke to the front of her friends’ minds, left them with a positive feeling about the product and gave Coke a bit of free publicity.
I haven’t seen my name on a bottle (yet!), but I know I’ll get a buzz of pleasure if someone sends me a picture of one. I know it’s a marketing ploy, I know the CocaCola executives weren’t thinking of me when they crafted that label, but I will still feel special, noticed.
I’ll feel noticed and appreciated by the friend who sees the bottle, thinks of me, takes the picture and sends it, but I’ll also, irrationally, feel the same about the CocaCola Corporation.
What Coke have managed to tap into is that regardless of how people feel about that particular fizzy drink, people like themselves, they like each other and they like relationship. We love to feel noticed, because feeling noticed makes us feel significant and ‘Am I significant?’ is one if those deep questions that we all spend our lives trying to answer.
A product that answers that question with a resounding ‘yes’ is bound to be popular, and if it can do it while encouraging sharing and altruism rather than, like a certain cosmetics line, by promoting self-regard (‘Because you’re worth it’), it’s onto a winner.
Well done, whoever came up with that campaign. I think you earned your annual bonus this year. And if anyone can find a bottle with my name on, do send me a picture, won’t you?!
Picture Credit: ‘Share a Coke with Adam’ by Adam Bowie (Creative Commons)