Coca Cola does some thinking outside the bottle

It’s been a couple of years since Coca Cola launched their “Where will happiness strike next” campaign in the Philippines. So why are we even mentioning it? In the spirit of the holidays and true involvement, the beverage giant did something quite impressive.

Coca Cola Philippines’ 2011 campaign: “Where will happiness strike next”

In November, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines and wreaked havoc. Shortly after, Coke offered $2.5m in aid (in cash and kind) to support the relief and recovery effort. And three days later, they suspended their advertising budget in the country – an undisclosed amount that would be used to support the much-needed rebuilding project instead.

With aid pouring in from countries, governments, and other businesses across the globe, what makes Coke so different? Cultural immersion, brand ownership, and authenticity.

On brand ownership & authenticity

Everyone knows that Coke has done a brilliant job on brand ownership. Just check out their website and you’ll see that they have found a way to move away from just “selling” a product to fitting into peoples’ real lives as they are lived.

The Philippines is one of their most profitable markets (where they achieved 8 per cent year-on-year growth in 2012 and claims to sell more than 500 million cases of the brown fizzy drink a year). And if you dig a little deeper, you realize that the brand is already woven into the fabric of Filipino society (their first Asian bottling operations launched in the Philippines in 1912) and that their involvement in the life of the Filipino people goes back much further.

To some, the budget suspension and donation could be interpreted as a marketing gimmick likely to see a return on investment just from the positive publicity generated from such a gesture. However, others see it as Coke making good on their obligation – they have a substantial number of employees in the country, many of whom were displaced after the typhoon.

Micro businesses are the backbone of the Philippine economy and Coke knows that

Many of the micro businesses in the country have been disrupted over the last month and can do with as much help as they can get. So, when Coca Cola (or any brand that’s meaningfully integrated into the lives, culture, and social fabric of their markets) lends a hand and shows empathy, they do ultimately help themselves… but it is done genuinely and seems like a helping hand from a friend rather than a giant corporation.

What are you doing to maintain authenticity and elevate your brand ownership?

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