Coca-Cola admits social media failings

Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of global advertising strategy and creative excellence at The Coca-Cola Company, has admitted the company is playing catch-up with user-generated content but plans to increase its social media output, reports Danielle Long from Cannes.


Speaking at the international advertising festival Cannes Lions 2009, Mildenhall admitted the multi-national corporation had been slow to embrace UGC and social media.

“We’ve been really nervous about user-generated content and, in terms of other brands in the space, we’re playing catch-up,” he said.

Mildenhall said a Facebook fan page which was started by consumers and swelled to 4m users helped the brand understand UGC.

“At first we were unsure but we’ve seen another world in the sense of the creative community love for the brand,” he said. “That has helped build confidence in handing over brands to user-generated content and we’re putting that into a lot of our plans.”

An example he gave of the work Coca-Cola had begun to produce was a monthly competition in Mexico where users can create, upload and vote for a 60-second ad, with the winner to be aired on TV.

“If I’m here [in Cannes] in three years’ time I’ll have UGC from all over the world to talk about,” Mildenhall said. “To have consumers genuinely at the heart of our business is something that truly excites me. “

He also predicted a shift back to consolidated agency models in the coming years. “I genuinely think we’ll see a lot of consolidation as traditional agencies merge with digital agencies. I feel from a Coca-Cola Company perspective, trying to manage different silos between creative, planning, digital and the big idea is too cumbersome for brands.

“I think we’ll end up with a one-stop-shop model with everything except media planning/buying, which I think will always be separate,” he added.

This story first appeared on

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