Speaking at the Content Marketing Association’s Summit in London yesterday afternoon (27 November), Coca-Cola’s recently promoted SVP of integrated marketing communication and design excellence for North America outlined the company’s “liquid and linked” marketing strategy, which it first unveiled publicly in at Cannes Lions earlier this year.
As part of that approach, Coca-Cola has created a “dollar multiplier” to describe its iterative production process, in which it has opted not to replicate the same content on different screens – but different pieces of media for each device and platform. As a result of this Mildenhall says the company will spend “much more” with the production industry going forward.
Mildenhall said the company is also looking to increase its participation with “the world’s finest creators”, including those outside the marketing industry – such as fashion designers or the likes of Google’s technologists.
He added: “World class creative ideas need tension to make them thrive. We need to learn how to use conflict constructively as it can be an outstanding enabler of great creativity.
“[Marketers should] bring in new partners from different industries to transform some of the norms around their content strategy and execution.”
He also advised marketers that the role of content marketing is to “play the role of the ruthless editor, otherwise you just run the risk of creating noise”.
It is a lesson Coca-Cola learnt the hard way with a US Fanta campaign. Coca-Cola uses a 70-20-10 marketing model, where 70 per cent of media budget is devoted to its “bread and butter channels”, 20 per cent is spent on augmenting those channels with new innovations and 10 per cent is on the high risk content, where the company is “prepared to celebrate both success and failure” – the Fanta campaign was one of the failures.
The “big bounce” campaign began with a high production value video which saw a box of big, orange bouncy balls dropped in a city, where the citizens worked together to use the ball to roll down flags or press other buttons. There was also an online game to supplement the video for consumers to play along and share their song but the issue, Mildenhall said, was that the game was “dull” and it only attracted 15 gamers in total.
He added: “We realised what a glorious failure that was but we did decode the learning from that and this year we launched a Fanta interactive graphic novel so we pulled all our learning from this bad expeirence into this integration.”
Coca-Cola now aims to create ideas “so contagious they can’t be controlled” – the liquid element – and always linked with business objectives, brand agendas, consumer interest and earning a “disproportionate share of popular culture” – the linked side.
Mildenhall said: “For us conversation is the absolute currency. If I’m spending $1 and consumers aren’t talking about it, I’m not spending that money smart enough. Amazing things can happen when you listen to the voice of the consumer.”
Coca-Cola is also building a social purpose into all its storytelling plans, Mildenhall said.
“For Coke our powerful position in the world affords us the opportunity and responsibility to make sure each of our brands are committed to making the world a better place and that each employee and agency partner understand how to integrate our social purpose commitments into our own daily lives, activities and operations.
“Amazing things can happen when you transcend your category. Coke is not just resting in the beverage category, it’s resting in a category of human and social connection that can lead to great stories, like the [Indian campaign] small world machine” Mildenhall added.