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Brand audit: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has long been the subject of criticism over issues ranging from health to the environment and recent figures suggest its sales growth is lagging behind Pepsi in the UK. However, Coke’s biggest ever UK summer campaign, which has seen the drinks company replace its branding with 150 of the country’s most popular names across 100 million packs, has moved consumer perception of the brand towards the positive end of the scale. 

The “Share a Coke” activity launched in earnest towards the end of April as the redesigned bottles were distributed to retail partners.  The soft drinks company ramped up the campaign with the launch of a TV ad in May and ongoing social media support, with experiential activations planned for later this summer.

When Jon Woods, managing director of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland, spoke to Marketing Week before the campaign launch, he said the company hoped it would replicate the success of similar activity that took place in Australia and New Zealand last summer. 

He claimed engagement with the brand and volume were boosted in the regions as a result of the activity and said the measure of success for the UK campaign would be how Coca-Cola would “excite our core consumer, create interest in the brand and drive value and volume”.

Buzz

In the month since the campaign launched, Coca-Cola’s Buzz ranking - YouGov BrandIndex’s measure of the positive and negative things said about the brand in the media or through word of mouth - has jumped from -5 to 1.9, a shift categorised as “statistically significant” by the research company.

Coca-Cola’s Buzz ranking of all the carbonated drinks in the UK market has shot up from 25 to number 7 in the league table. Diet Coke and Coke Zero, which are also part of the campaign, are now ranked first and third in terms of Buzz respectively.

The campaign has driven a particularly vocal response from consumers on social media, as fans of the campaign documented finding their names and those of their friends on pack in-store. YouGov’s social media analysis tool SoMa suggests 53 per cent of the conversations around Coca-Cola on Twitter during the campaign have been positive in sentiment - and just 25 per cent negative and 21 per cent neutral.

Recommendation, reputation and impression

Away from social media, the campaign also appears to have improved the likelihood of consumers recommending Coca-Cola to a friend, as the campaign invites them to do. Coca-Cola’s Recommendation score has increased from 3.7 to 12.7 in the past 30 days.

The positivity around the campaign also appears to have had a favourable impact on Coca-Cola’s general reputation, which will be good news for its communications team who often have to combat criticism aimed at the brand from consumers and activist groups over issues such as obesity, sustainability and advertising to children. Its Reputation score has jumped from 13.8 to 18.9 in the period, behind only Schweppes - another Coca-Cola owned brand - in the Reputation rankings. General impression of the Coca-Cola brand has also lifted, up 7.3 points in the campaign’s lifetime.

Coca-Cola will be hoping the shifts in consumer perception of the brand also translate to sales. Coca-Cola sales in the grocery, convenience and impulse market increased just 0.8 per cent in 2012, compared with a 7.4 per cent uplift for Pepsi brands, according to the latest Britvic Soft Drinks Report.

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said reception for the “Share a Coke” campaign has been “fantastic”.

She adds: “We wanted people to discover the campaign for themselves, so Share A Coke packs hit shelves before we officially launched the advertising. As a result, right from the outset, the public reaction and engagement has been phenomenal, with tens of thousands of tweets via social media channels. We look forward to maintaining that interest through the summer as the campaign progresses.”

Marketing Week analysed YouGov BrandIndex data from 1 May to 3 June, using a four-day moving average, to conduct this audit.

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