In 2010, The Coca-Cola Company announced their ambitious ‘2020 Vision’ – to double global sales by the year 2020. As the largest beverage company worldwide, and with a wide product range available in practically every store, café and restaurant across the globe, doubling sales will not be a simple task. Over the past 100 years, the company has combined two primary marketing philosophies to achieve their market dominance: firstly, and perhaps most importantly, Marketing 1.0 style rapid and powerful increases in distribution; and secondly, a Marketing 2.0 style philosophy, building connections to customers through their mission to spread happiness and optimism, which has been present in all of their global advertising and marketing material. However, the company has identified that whilst these two present initiatives will continue to steadily boost sales, they are still not a strong enough force to create such a drastic change as doubling sales within 10 years. Therefore, in order to achieve this vision, Coca-Cola intends to be one of the first major global corporations to leverage the power of a fully implemented Marketing 3.0 philosophy.
Coca-Cola’s ‘Liquid & Linked’, is the most comprehensive, and true to philosophy, Marketing 3.0 initiative I have identified so far from any corporation. Being a step ahead of the game in this new marketing arena, The Coca-Cola Company presented an 18-minute video to attendees at the Cannes Lions Awards 2011 detailing many of the elements of their 3.0 philosophy. The video is easy-to-follow and beautifully presented, breaking beyond a company focus to serve as a simple means of conceptually understanding the entire Marketing 3.0 philosophy.
The following summarizes the overall themes and take-aways from the video:
1. Content Excellence
Coca-Cola will transition their marketing strategy from the development of ‘creative excellence’ to ‘content excellence’, i.e. they will move towards the development of creative content (e.g interactive platforms) over simply creative pieces (e.g. traditional TVC). Additionally, this ‘content excellence’ shall be both ‘Liquid & Linked’: ‘liquid’ in that the ideas shall be ‘so contagious, they cannot be controlled’; and ‘linked’ in that the ideas are ‘innately relevant’ to business objectives, brands and consumer interests.
The following outlines their ‘content excellence’ conversation model:
- Develop brand stores, that…
- Generate contagious ideas (liquid) relevant to business objectives, brands and consumer interests (linked), that…
- Provoke conversations, that…
- Are acted upon and reacted to 365 days a year, to…
- Earn a disproportionate share of popular culture.
2. Changes to Consumer Culture
An increased distribution of creativity can be seen in modern culture, with consumer-generated stories consistently outweighing brand-created stories. Additionally the increased distribution of technology, where consumer’s are now far more connected and empowered than ever before, has lead to an ‘on demand’ culture, with consumers turning on their demands 24 hours a day.
These recent changes in society can be leveraged to develop brilliant creative ideas that make use of existing consumer online behaviours, feature messages inseparable from technology and develop a deeper emotional connection with consumers. However to fully take advantage of these technology-based changes, technologists must be integrated into core creative teams and relationships must be built with technology companies.
3. Evolution of Storytelling
The way in which brand stories are told in marketing must transition from ‘one-way’ to ‘dynamic’. Coca-Cola defines ‘dynamic’ storytelling as: ‘the development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience’. According to Coca-Cola, to develop ‘content excellence’ the brand must now behave like a ruthless editor, enforcing tight control over the publication of brand- and consumer-generated stories.
Coca-Cola define five different types of storytelling that can form various elements of an overall ‘dynamic’ story:
- Serial storytelling – standard single-plot TVC-like stories
- Multifaceted storytelling – multiple-plot stories
- Spreadable storytelling – stories designed to be spread over social media
- Immersion & Discovery storytelling – stories that draw consumers in deeper
- Engagement through storytelling – interactive stories
4. Brand Stories & CSR/Values
Currently each Coca-Cola brand’s vision and architecture integrate cultural leadership and cultural tensions, however employees are disconnected from both the company and brand values.
‘Liquid & Linked’ demands the integration of brand values into the brand storytelling. Here, the company’s commitment to making the world a better place must be integrated into each brand’s vision and architecture, with aspects of this commitment showcased in the various brand stories told to consumers. Additionally, ‘every employee needs to ensure the brands succeed in the way that makes the world a better place’, with every employee applying the company/brand principles to their daily lives, activities and operations.
5. Provocations & The Creative Brief
At present, creative briefs are inflexible, limiting and driven by consumer and cultural ‘insights’ that only produce small incremental thinking. To inspire greater creative, Coca-Cola feels the need to transition ‘insights’ to ‘provocations’, consumer/cultural discoveries that generate larger transformational actions.
Development of new creative briefs will start with data mining for trends and ideas that are allowed to grow into inspirational ‘provocations’. A creative brief will then be developed with a ‘big fat fertile space’ at its heart - a space for the brief to grow conceptually, broad enough to encompass many potential current and future creative content executions. Along the development process, the brief shall be informed by: business data and objectives; brand spacing; internal, external and consumer collaborators; conceptual challenges; online conversation; and brand partners briefs, to ensure the brief is dramatically different whilst exploiting any connections.
6. Content Creation
According to Coca-Cola, content development is ‘the creation of stories that are to be expressed through every possible connection’. Each story, and therefore the content overall, must be so compelling, adding such significance to people’s lives, that it takes on a life form of its own to be the substance or matter of brand engagement and conversation. All stories, therefore, must be free to move amongst themselves (liquid), whilst always remaining connected (linked). As a result one development model will no longer fit all, thus requiring more collaborative, adaptive a continuous models of development.
Coca-Cola suggest the following model for content creation:
- Inspire co-creation amongst the very best collaborators
- Connect all creative minds
- Share the results of these efforts
- Continue development
- Measure success
7. 70/20/10 Investment Principles
The development of ‘content excellence’ is not without risk, for the new creative ideas that emerge, whilst crammed with potential, can be both experimental and untested. To manage such a creative portfolio, Coca-Cola has devised a set of investment principles to ensure the safety of their bottom-line.
- 70% of their marketing investment and 50% of their time involvement will go towards low-risk content – this is the content that will “pay the rent”
- 20% of their marketing investment and 25% of their time involvement will go towards innovating based off low-risk content – this is the content that engages more deeply with specific audiences
- 10% of their marketing investment and 25% of their time involvement will go towards high-risk content – these are the brand new ideas that may become tomorrow’s 70% or 20%; however they must be prepared for them to fail, celebrating both success and failures
8. Research Recalibration
Too often nowadays, potential ‘content excellence’ is killed early in the development process due to the need for supportive research data. As a result, there is a need to change the marketing research process to enable data to expand potential ideas, rather than killing or freezing them in early development. Coca-Cola are therefore shifting their research methodology and budgeting to develop greater capabilities in testing data that mirrors the modern cultural and media landscape and the development of flexible and previously untested creative briefs and concepts.
- 30% of the research budget will go towards community monitoring, developing inspirational spaces and provocation tools
- 15% of the budget will go towards online feedback and consumer dialogue tools, evolving creative ideas into story arches through genuine consumer collaboration
- 30% of the budget will go towards link testing
- 25% of the budget will go towards conversational and real-time testing, developing an iterative evolution of content that prevents conversations both with and between consumers from being abandoned too early
- Additionally they will abandon the traditional qualitative testing of scripts
9. Content Production
In contrast to the ‘one-way storytelling’ of ‘creative excellence’, the production needs of ‘dynamic storytelling’ for ‘content excellence’ may not be fully known until an initial version has been released to market. The content production processes, therefore, must be as flexible (liquid) as the content produced - something that must also be factored into budgeting considerations.
Additionally, unlike previous content replication techniques, ‘content excellence’ requires content iteration to truly encapsulate a ‘dynamic storytelling’ experience, and so the production of a variety of new and unique content across a range of different media. If we consider the entire brand story to be a tent, large ‘tent-pole’ (e.g. TVCs) and smaller ‘tent-peg’ (e.g. mobile app) productions are both vital to holding up the entire structure. The development of dynamic content thus requires the production of a greater quantity of elements, varying in production scale. Therefore from the offset, creative briefs must be planned to accommodate the development of such a content range from the original production budget.
Whilst this summary provides a comprehensive overview of the presentation, I highly recommend watching the full presentation: