This year Coca Cola launched a content marketing strategy, Content 2020, which revealed a monumental shift in direction and emphasis. This new strategy has been built on recognition of the fact that the world is changing rapidly. This means that traditional marketing methods are becoming outdated. The rise of social media and the consequent effect on customer expectations has forced Coca Cola, one of the worlds most successful brands for over 100 years, to reassess how it connects with people.
The fact is people trust editorial more than adverts (69% – 18%). This statistic has inspired a rethink in marketing techniques away from ‘creative excellence’ towards ‘content excellence’. The TV advert is no longer the ultimate way to take your brand to the people and encourage them to connect with it. Rather, content is currency when it comes to brand engagement.
Coca Cola released their strategy on video for all to see. This is extremely useful to the rest of us as it outlines how they plan to grow their market share through their new approach of content excellence.
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Summary of Coca Cola’s key points
1. Create ‘liquid’ and ‘linked’ content
The term ‘liquid’ refers to contagious ideas that can’t be controlled. These ideas have to be fundamentally ‘linked’ to business objectives, the brand and consumer interests. These ideas will spark ‘conversations’ and through these conversations, Coca Cola’s aim is to earn a disproportionate share of popular culture. Their aim is to create conversation with brand stories. This will take the process full circle as these conversations will in turn create liquid and linked ideas. Coca Cola then see it as their responsibility to ‘act’ and ‘react’ to those conversations every day of the year, through all of the mediums that customers are using, including social media.
2. The case for change
Coca Cola have identified three key drivers as to why they need to change their approach.
– The first of these is that they want to double to size of their business.
– The second is that they have noticed the current climate within which there is a ‘distribution of creativity’ and no one has a monopoly on creativity.
– The third driver is the distribution of technology and the fact that consumers are empowered through their access to a range of on demand devices.
3. The evolution of story telling
Coca Cola recognise that storytelling is at the heart of all families, communities and cultures. They have highlighted a change in storytelling and a need to move away from one-way storytelling and towards ‘dynamic storytelling’. Their video describes the role of ‘content excellence’ as a ruthless editor which will manage the dispersion of incremental elements of a brand idea, across multiple channels of conversation. ‘Content excellence’ will aim to ensure that this dispersions results in the consumer having a unified and coordinated brand experience. They list 5 types of story telling at 03:45 in Part One.
Content marketing is the new advertising
In the past, the goal of marketing was to serve the customer with information that the company felt they should know. The new goal is to educate and entertain the user to the extent that they feel connected to the brand and want to share this with others.
A major consequence of the points raised by Content 2020 is that content is apparently the new advertising. But what does this actually mean for the industry? One obvious implication will be the change to the division of labour and workflow within an organisation. Opportunities for content creators like writers, marketers and people with video production skills are likely to grow dramatically. It won’t be a surprise if media companies start being bought out by brands to run their increased marketing activities.
What is particularly interesting about Coca Cola is that they can’t really enhance their core product. Coke is just coke, Fanta is Fanta etc! Their growth is therefore almost entirely dependent on the development of their marketing strategy over time. In order to control the potential for constant changes in what they say and how they say it, they have developed an investment strategy called the ’70/20/12 investment principle’. 70% of their spend on content marketing is dedicated to low risk, bread and butter marketing, such as safe TV adverts. The next 20% is for content which includes some innovation but is based on what already works well for them. The final 10% is the higher risk experiments with entirely new ideas, which one day may move into the 70% or 20% segment.
The following Fanta video is a good example of some of Coca Cola’s strategy that would be placed in the 10% bracket.
What we can learn from this investment strategy is that it is important to invest in marketing innovation, but it needs to be controlled because trying new things can cost a lot in time, money and energy.
What Coca Cola have recognised is that content marketing, which involves telling compelling stories which connect with people emotionally, will result in customers talking about and engaging with their brand. This will contribute to their goal of doubling the size of its business. As a brand who are used to being at the forefront of innovation, they were comfortable enough to release their animated video strategy for all, including their competitors, to see. They have highlighted the importance for all brands to look at how they integrate new media into their marketing strategy and it is unlikely anyone will forget Content 2020 in a hurry.