Monday, March 21, 2011

Advertising works

Just ask Coca Cola.

While Pepsi has been fiddling with cause marketing efforts, pouring money into their "Refresh" project, Coca Cola has been communicating what their brand stands for and the benefits of their products mostly using traditional advertising tactics like Super Bowl advertising.

The result? Diet Coke just passed Pepsi as the #2 selling soft drink in the world, behind only regular Coca Cola.

I know advertising doesn't deserve all the credit. Coke has done a great job with their packaging, merchandising, distribution and other promotions for their lead brands. 

Pepsi's Refresh Project was launched to great fanfare and generated a lot of buzz, especially since part of the story was Pepsi eschewing the expense of Super Bowl advertising. And while it gained a lot of short term attention, the project only remained relevant to a small group of people after the launch.

Consumer brands like Coke, Pepsi, Oscar Mayer, McDonald's and others need to fight against the urge to abandon what works for the next shiny thing. People don't expect their brands to be community activists, content providers or god forbid, friends. There's been a lot of time, energy and money wasted trying to do just that.

It may not be sexy, but reminding people of what you make and why they might like it has worked for a lot of advertisers for a lot of years. 

The trick is, you can't just make advertising; you have to make good advertising.

And that is harder than it looks.


  1. I'm not sure I'm 100% behind you on this one Harv. I do think consumers are looking for brands to be part of their lives in a relevant way and that definitely can include entertaining them (content providers) and having the same value set they do (which certainly could mean some form of community activism or other cause marketing). And generally that relationship is built in this mobile, digital and social media world... not just the traditional above-the-line vehicles like TV, radio and print.
    I do agree you don't eschew the tried and true for the next shiny object or fad, but product attribute advertising on TV is so surface level. And, I'm not sure that's what Coke is just doing anyways as it tries to deliver Happiness in a Bottle to the world. (Interesting too that I just signed up finally for MyCokeRewards. Had I done that from the beginning, I might own their company by now.)

  2. Chris, I agree that advertising alone isn't the answer. Coke does all those below the line things really well. Also, I'm not advocating product attribute advertising, "why they might like it" includes the social and emotional benefits that have helped Coke dominate its market.

    Thanks for the feedback.