In marketing, experience is everything
The last day of June saw the streets of Marikina City awash in a spectrum of colors of the rainbow as Filipinos joined the annual Pride March, a celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community and gender diversity.
It was a day when labels didn’t matter, not even for a big brand like Coca-Cola, which, on that day only, decided to replace the logo on its bottles with a rainbow to showcase the company’s support for the movement.
The team behind the idea is Asean Social Xperience Lab, a collaboration between Coca-Cola and communications agency Ogilvy, which is tasked to “create better integrated brand experiences” for Coke’s consumers, says Yasmin Mallari, Coca-Cola’s integrated marketing communications director for connections for Asean connections planning.
In a nutshell, marketing campaigns created under the Social Xperience Lab aren’t necessarily platform-based; they could be on traditional or digital media, or, like what happened during Pride March, at an actual event using Coke’s product itself, Mallari explains.
Consumer experience, above everything else, is a top priority.
“For a brand, a trademark—its label—is the most important thing, and that’s what we chose to remove,” says Gretchen Que, Social Xperience Lab content lead. “But there was an art to removing the label; we didn’t just slap on a rainbow. We retained elements of Coke, such as the swirl, and even if we removed the name, we retained the tagline ‘Taste the Feeling’ (written discreetly as a hashtag), which is something Coke has been talking about forever.”
The Lab’s team, however, felt that simply changing the logo to a rainbow didn’t capture the whole Pride experience—hence its transformation into a removable label which consumers wore as a wristband.
“We thought, sayang naman (it seems like a waste)—so people see the label, they drink. What else can we do? How can we maximize this to show our support. That’s why the label turned into a wristband. Once people started interacting with it, they reacted to it,” says Que.
Coca-Cola captured those reactions on video, which has since been uploaded on YouTube.
One consumer, looking at the Coke bottle in her hand and the label on her wrist, commented: “It sends a powerful message.”
“Going back to the label, you saw that we didn’t advertise, didn’t make a TV commercial, because the experience had to be relevant to the consumer,” says Mallari. “It’s not just about what’s trending; we need to find the right moment and what would make [the campaign] more relevant.”
Que explains, however, that Social Xperience Lab is grounded on data found on social media platforms.
“Of course, we need the intelligence also to figure out the who, what, when, where, why and how. And as creatives, we decided we wanted to work closely with numbers, or the insights [from social media platforms],” she says.
For the Pride March campaign, Samantha Sanchez, Coca-Cola public affairs and communications manager, says the general insight they discovered was that people would usually wear rainbow-colored items to showcase their support for Pride—hence Coke’s wearable labels.
The one-day campaign (sorry, no rainbow-labeled Coke bottles on store shelves just yet) is also indicative of Coca-Cola’s values when it comes to gender diversity.
“Coca-Cola, globally, does listening tours with the LGBTQIA+ community to find out what kind of support they need. We also have a group that studies how we can continually improve our policies [on diversity],” Sanchez says.
While headquartered in Manila, Mallari says the Asean Social Xperience Lab is a network of different teams across Coca-Cola’s markets in the region.
Pride March was just the beginning for the Philippines, she adds, and that people can expect more innovative campaigns to come.
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