How getting rid of the CMO ‘broadened’ Coca-Cola’s marketing approach

The introduction of the chief growth officer position more than 18 months ago has focused the minds of Coca-Cola’s marketers on business growth, rather than awareness and winning Cannes Lions awards, as it looks to reach new consumers and boost brand loyalty.

Coca-Cola One Brand

Coca-Cola’s decision to get rid of its chief marketing officer role in favour of a chief growth officer has “broadened” the company’s approach to marketing, according to one of the drink giant’s top marketers.

Coca-Cola scrapped the CMO position in March last year, appointing Francisco Crespo as chief growth officer instead. And that move has helped change the outlook of the marketing department and “broadened its approach”, says Coca-Cola’s global vice-president of creative, Rodolfo Echeverria.

Speaking exclusively to Marketing Week at a press event in Atlanta, US, he says: “Marketing in Coca-Cola is meant to drive business. The basic elements of awareness and winning awards at the Cannes Lions Festival no longer satisfies us.”

He adds: “We have always been big but now we are obsessively pursuing growth not in the sense that we want to be richer but in the sense we are looking at those consumers who are not our consumers right now. We’re asking how can we grow? How can we satisfy more and better consumer needs?

“When you have the boss whose job title is growth officer then you have to come up with growth in terms of new consumers who love the brand more, are buying Coca-Cola more frequently and have a high appreciation for the brand value.”

Coca-Cola’s business strategy now is focused on becoming a ‘total beverage company’, moving away from its reliance on fizzy drinks. To do that it has launched new products such as Fuze Tea, as well as buying brands such as Costa.

Echeverria admits that diversification has been a challenge, particularly in ensuring each brand has a strong identity. “We have to really focus to make sure every one of our brands has an edge, a differentiating point that is relevant to the people or relates to that brand.”

He adds: “When you have 500+ brands around the world it is a really heavy duty to give all those children a personality, a specific tone and manner and something distinctive to say all around the world.”

However, he also believes that business shift has had a positive affect on marketers within the company, with the total beverage approach “forcing” employees to be more curious.

Echeverria says: “Big companies can make this mistake of looking at themselves, looking at their belly button and thinking that the world is here. But we are really teaching and grooming a new generation of marketers that always look at the world and what it has to teach us.”