When it comes to snatching the attention of consumers, Coca-Cola has a proven track record. Remember the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign from the 1970s? The one with the iconic “hilltop” commercial featuring people from all over the world?

That’s just one of the many winning campaigns the soda company has launched over the years. Recently, Coke did it again with its “Share a Coke” campaign. But this was quite a bit more complex than the one from the ‘70s. The marketing team had to launch a global campaign with many moving parts, multiple media platforms, new workflows, and partners in 80 different nations.

In the end, the “Share a Coke” campaign raised sales and introduced Coke to a generation that saw the soda as an old fuddy-duddy. We can learn something from the success of the “Share a Coke” campaign.  

We’ve spent some time dissecting the campaign and analyzing what actions made it so successful. The insights we’ve discovered mirror closely with the four disciplines for repeatable and consistent results that we call “The Wrike Way.” It’s a process for success that we identified working with more than 16,000 marketing and creative teams. Let’s break down the “Share a Coke” campaign through the lens of The Wrike Way’s four disciplines and the actionable insights you and your team can use in your next big campaign.

The planning stage

Coca-Cola Billboard
(Image credit: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/share-a-coke-how-the-groundbreaking-campaign-got-its-start-down-under)

The “Share a Coke” Campaign required alignment between multiple teams and departments worldwide. Australia was the first to taste the campaign, which would eventually hit more than 80 countries over seven years. That required original content in multiple languages and formats, including print and TV ads, billboards, SMS messaging, websites, and social media.

Executive, marketing, legal, design, product, and operations teams collaborated on everything from finding the exact shade of red ink for the labels to building the list of words that would be banned from bottles. A new typeface was designed to prevent any problems with trademarks and intellectual property. The sheer amount of conversations and stats around the planning of this campaign are mind-blowing:

  • 150 submissions to marketing approvals
  • 25 risk assessment meetings
  • 4,000 hours of talking to stakeholders
  • 225 trademark searches
  • 40 hours spent identifying the right shade of red ink
  • 2,302 original artworks
  • 303,669 point-of-sale pieces
  • 5,287 words that would be blocked from the labels

The amount of planning that went into this campaign is staggering. Let's look at how this planning fits into the Wrike Way's own planning stage, which adds further focus and alignment to the team:

  • Start with the customer. The Coke and Ogilvy teams identified the millennial market as the biggest opportunity and developed a campaign that would tap into one of their most popular behaviors—social sharing. 

    Lucie Austin, then Marketing Director for Coca-Cola South Pacific, put it this way:

    “Our research showed that while teens and young adults loved that Coca-Cola was big and iconic, many felt we were not talking to them at eye level. Australians are extremely egalitarian. There’s a phrase called ‘tall poppy syndrome.’ If anyone gets too big for their boots, they get cut down like a tall poppy. By putting first names on the packs, we were speaking to our fans at eye level.”
  • Use data to define your goals. Ogilvy and Coca-Cola developed the campaign with two clear objectives in mind. The first and primary objective: Increase sales during the summer period in Australia. Talking directly to millennial consumers was the second objective.  Identifying these objectives at the start gave the teams laser focus and allowed them to establish the metrics of success. One factor of success was an increase in sales from the number of cases sold compared to previous years, along with the individual units of the new, personalized cans/bottles sold. Another secondary metric would measure the overall amount of social media mentions and conversations, which was made easier with the trackable hashtag #ShareACoke.
Image credit: https://www.ogilvy.com.au/our-work/share-coke
  • Communicate at every stage of the planning cycle. Every part of the organization was regularly updated on what was happening and what was needed.   Every department and team within the soda company was given the opportunity to lend their expertise, providing insights to head off any potential problems. The new “You” typeface, created specifically for this campaign, is the perfect example of this. Originally, the logo’s Spencerian script was going to be used for the names, but legal quickly identified a potential trademark issue. The design team created a brand new typeface in response. The “You” typeface—called that because of you, the customer— is now used throughout the organization. 

The process stage

Coca-Cola Kiosks
Image credit: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/share-a-coke-how-the-groundbreaking-campaign-got-its-start-down-under

Coca-Cola is no stranger to massive, challenging marketing campaigns. But the “Share a Coke” campaign had such unique needs that the Coke team created entirely new workflows and production processes.

One of the biggest hurdles was changing the product packaging. Each Coke can had a personalized name, and each region had its own names, languages, and alphabet. This created all kinds of logistical hurdles.

To help tackle some of the operational challenges, Coca-Cola turned to HP and its high-speed printers. Other process challenges were solved through regular communication, well-defined contingency plans, a smart use of automation, and clearly documented processes that left nothing to chance.

Let’s take these lessons and apply them to the Wrike Way’s guidance on process so  you can see how to execute at scale:

  • Automate wherever possible. Replacing the brand’s iconic logo on the product itself was already a huge risk, but couple that with consumer-suggested names, and you have a recipe for a potential PR nightmare. But how do you monitor submissions across multiple continents and languages? The Coke team made an exhaustive list of banned offensive words and innuendos, then automated the rejection process. This kept derogatory content and potentially embarrassing gaffes from making it on the cans.    
Customizing Share a Coke cans
Image Credit: https://www.digitalvidya.com/blog/case-study-on-coca-colas-share-a-coke-campaign/
  • Make sure you have the right customer touchpoints. The campaign initially launched with 150 names. Coke anticipated requests for thousands of new names and built a system to accommodate those requests as the campaign rolled out. Eighteen kiosks were set up in malls across Australia, where people could either print custom cans or submit new names. Of course, they’d have to form an orderly queue.  This clever process both built on the themes of sharing and connectedness while preventing mobs from rushing to get their name on a can.  The year after the initial launch,  the number of names increased from 150 to 1,000.

The collaboration stage

Selena Gomez Coke Campaign
Image Credit: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/this-selena-gomez-share-a-coke-and-a-song-photo-is-instagrams-mo

The “Share a Coke” campaign would not have been possible without collaboration on a global scale. Of course, there was internal collaboration amongst Coca-Cola’s product, design, legal, operations, and marketing teams. But the soda company also coordinated with external partners and agencies, even joining forces with millennial influencers, such as Ludacris, Selena Gomez, and Lupita Nyong’o to get the message to the masses.

Boiling it all down, great collaboration results in the right people working on the right things at the right time. As a team grows, it requires more and more communication to keep everyone on the same page. Add in distributed teams and agency partners, and it’s apparent that a collaboration platform is needed to house all communication in one organized place. Whether you have such a system in place yet or not, the Wrike Way offers actionable guidance that ensures you and your team work at peak efficiency:

  • Be clear on who owns what tasks. Internal roles were clearly assigned from the get-go. Legal went straight to work, investigating copyright rules and evaluating risk. Design immediately produced new assets. Operations didn’t waste any time, quickly figuring out the logistics involved in printing hundreds of new labels. Marketing hit the ground running, creating messaging and content for each language and region. In smaller organizations, roles and responsibilities may not be as well defined. It’s up to the project lead to communicate clearly who is doing what and hold that person or team accountable.
  • Figure out who’s good at what.  Despite the incredible amount of internal talent, Coca-Cola sought outside experts who assisted in refining and bringing the concept to life. In addition to Ogilvy, the company worked with a handful of other agencies on a variety of campaign components. For example, MediaCom helped Coke create the world’s first personalized TV ads, which aired on the 4oD TV on-demand television platform. MediaCom used viewer data—their sign-in name—to make the ads a reality. An incredible amount of collaboration, from data collection to messaging, went into pulling the ads off. The results speak for themselves: A whopping 71% of viewers remember the ad fondly.

The visibility stage

Data can help us make better decisions, but only if we have access to it.

Collecting data across multiple international markets is no small feat, but Coca-Cola set itself up for success in several key areas. The objectives of the campaign were clearly identified in the planning phase, which helped the Coke team establish the metrics of success.  

Because there was such a large digital component, the exact numbers of personalized cans could be tracked, measured, and reported on. This led to better logistical planning as the campaign moved into more countries. Lastly, regular and timely reporting on the campaign’s progress allowed the soda company to quickly iterate and optimize, which freed them to pursue the highest ROI activities year over year.

A key part of the Wrike Way is identifying the right metrics and pulling in external analytics into your work management system. Having accurate and timely data enables quick course correction. The Wrike Way offers some practical suggestions for using data in your decision-making:

  • Bring all the conversations into one place. The brilliant and easily trackable #ShareACoke hashtag was put on all marketing materials so Coke’s team could keep a pulse on the conversation happening across social networks. Without it, the company’s visibility in what discussions were evolving would’ve been limited.
  • Tie your tools together. The Coke team examined a variety of data points when they built the campaign—from calculating the number of personalized cans printed at their shopping mall kiosks to the names appearing on their interactive billboard. By connecting these systems together and funneling their data into one place, the team easily monitored the health of the campaign in near real-time and iterated as needed.
  • Visualize your reporting.  Internal presentations, using easy-to-read charts and graphs, kept everyone within the organization apprised of results. Having the data presented in an easy-to-digest manner gave everyone clarity to determine what steps to take next.

The sweet taste of success

The impact of the “Share a Coke” campaign was nothing short of astounding. During the initial Australian release, consumption among teenagers grew 7%, with two out of five people in the country buying a Share a Coke pack. 378,000 Coke cans were printed at kiosks, and overall sales increased by 3%. On social, 76,000 virtual Coke cans were shared, Facebook traffic increased by 870%, and 170,000 tweets were made by 160,000 fans.

After the global rollout began in 2012, over 1,000 names have been printed on cans and bottles, and more than 150,000,000 personalized bottles have been sold. #ShareACoke even became the number one global trending topic. It’s resulted in over 1 billion impressions. The campaign won seven awards at the Cannes Lions festival, raised U.S. sales by 2.5% after a decade of decline, and continues to be expanded in new and innovative ways that are still driving revenue now.

Execution is everything

What started as a 151-word creative brief transformed into a multi-channel, global marketing campaign that continues to perform nearly seven years later. The success of this campaign was no fluke, as Coke’s marketing team continues to repeat these wins over and over again with a clear focus on execution.

"Nowadays marketers can’t just be blue-sky thinkers that sit in their rooms brainstorming creative ideas," says Coke Marketing Director for the South Pacific Lucie Austin. "It does have to be developed."

Large-scale, integrated campaigns across channels, mediums, and borders are the future. As the speed of change intensifies along with the on-demand economy’s complexity, executing this new breed of marketing campaign at scale becomes increasingly difficult. No longer is it enough to be a top-performing individual—these campaigns only work when you have a top-performing team. A rock-solid project management methodology and toolset is required to achieve this level of seamless collaboration and deliver results.

The Wrike Way was built for high-performance, operationally intensive teams so they can achieve these kinds of results. You’ll be able to generate consistent and repeatable results with the best practices distilled from thousands of the world’s leading teams and organizations.

You’ll build unity between people, teams, and departments, transforming your company into a lean, efficient organization. Download the eBook below and get your team executing on a higher level than ever before.