With a Killer Coke Campaign Comes a Question

Why does the outrageous laughing in a recent Coca-Cola marketing campaign leave us on the verge of tears?

It's because we want to be there and to join in. That's the ultimate metric of success in the management of the customer experience: Have we reached people's emotions? Do they want to join us in whatever we're doing?

We've talked about customer loyalty springing not from satisfaction but from a series of emotional experiences with the brand, but is our marketing designed to activate those emotions?

For many years, conventional marketing has prescribed a particular order in which a brand develops power in the market:

  • A new brand needs educational marketing. The focus is usually on product differentiation, market segmentation, and consumer awareness.
  • As the brand gains traction, marketing focuses on cementing the brand and the operational delivery of its promise or "walking the talk."
  • Finally, mature and successful brands -- at Coca-Cola's level -- seek to become social influencers. They say, "Here's who we are," and the product begins to take a back seat to the brand.

In this campaign, Coca-Cola is saying, "You love Coke because of who we are, essentially human, essentially you."

So here's my question: Nowadays, when brands have a more immediate reach to a more refined segmentation, with higher frequency and greater depth, is it necessary to go through all three stages?

In the past, it took time to create awareness of the product and cement the brand and promise in the customers' minds. But this is not your father's marketing world. Can the reach and precision of social media allow brands to jump faster and more directly to the social influencer level?

Let me know what you think below. We'll continue the discussion next week based on any comments we receive.