Coca-Cola faces a conundrum as one of America’s—and arguably the world’s—most important and iconic companies. The flagship brand for which the company is named, and has since long diversified, no longer reflects the core focus of its business.
While sales of carbonated soft drinks are slumping across the American beverage industry, Coca-Cola’s other businesses are growing and its overall business doing just fine, thank you very much—and so its leadership team under new CEO James Quincey is championing its broader portfolio with a new US-focused corporate branding campaign dubbed “Coca-Cola Renew.”
It’s less about reversing declining sales of Coke and Diet Coke and more a chance to celebrate its brands, its people and its local roots across America, selling The Coca-Cola Company as a “total beverage company” that’s “proudly local everywhere”—and in so doing, adding dimensions to a brand that long has stood for more than just the contents of its bottles and cans. It’s renewing its vows with America, in a sense, after many decades of marriage—and reminding itself and its stakeholders about the value it has built and continues to build.
Coca-Cola revealed the corporate branding campaign during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast with a portrayal of the company as making “more than our name suggests.” The ad shows a range of its brands—including Zico, Honest Tea, Odwalla juice and Smartwater—that reflect consumers’ increasingly health-oriented and diversified tastes in beverages. The commercial also humanizes the company by featuring a delivery driver and a hydrologist on its water conservation team, underlining its corporate citizenship and the passion of its people.
The video also hailed the 68 independent US Coca-Cola bottlers—who over the last several years have taken back ownership of local bottling outfitse—as part of the company’s broader family, stressing its deep connections in local communities.
And in one print ad, Coca-Cola features Junior Bridgman, a former NBA star and accomplished entrepreneur who owns a bottling operation in the Midwest. (It doesn’t get much more All-American than that.)
As the 60-second campaign video states, “Today, companies need to do more,” and a huge part of Coke’s marketing pivot these days isn’t just a de-emphasis on soda but also an accent on how it does so much more than people likely realize.
A longer-form video on YouTube declares that Coca-Cola is “dedicated not to not only doing good business, but good for the world too.”
In a Renew-focused content marketing campaign on its corporate website, Coca-Cola tells all sorts of local stories, like that of Toni Donaghey, a long-serving special-events supervisor in New Orleans. The themes: how Coca-Cola is renewing its commitment by investing in America to create more jobs. Other #CocaColaRenew storytelling includes how it’s giving back and bolstering its citizenship, improving its products, commited to water conservation, serving evolving consumer tastes, developing new leaders and more.
Coca-Cola executives aren’t just appealing to US consumers, but all-important stakeholders on Wall Street, telling investors other strategic initiatives such as selling more high-margin small packages of Coke compared with commodity sizes such as two-liter plastic bottles.
“Our business has been a little above the category and we’ve been performing strongly,” Sandy Douglas, EVP and president of Coca-Cola North America, told investors at the recent Barclays Consumer Staples Conference in New York. “We’re able to weather the storm because we’re able to segment and execute with our bottlers to take advantage of the opportunities where they are. And so, as a result, over the longer term, we’re going to do fine.”
While #CocaColaRenew is focused on its US operations, a similar “We are more than the Coke you know” campaign started running in its Coca-Cola FEMSA division, the Latin American bottling arm based in Mexico City that reaches other markets such as the Philippines, such as this spot that was released in May:
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