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Article by Packaging and Print Media - Gill Loubser 24 February 2014

Personalised Marketing - The Share a Coke Story

Early last year, Coca-Cola invited consumers in 32 European countries to Share a Coke by addressing them personally on-pack. Now the campaign is being repeated in South Africa, although clearly not on quite the same massive scale! Comparable numbers here are over 600 names printed during the campaign period from September 2013 to February 2014.CCSA'S, Sharon Kieth goes on to point out that a key supplier was Nampak Bevcan who rose to the challenge of creating randomness when printing names on cans. ‘These hurdles were overcome by creating a manufacturing and distribution grid for Bevcan’s can-making plants. Despite some initial limitations, this was fairly successful,’ she adds.‘We’re swapping our brand name with yours!’ So ran Coca-Cola’s initial consumer publicity.Supported by an integrated marketing programme to connect consumers online, the first phase of the Share a Coke campaign substituted the iconic brand logo with popular first names, nicknames and terms of affection from each of South Africa’s language groups. On 330ml and 440ml cans and two-litre PET bottles, conventional printing methods were used.The original campaign featured over 600 of the country’s most popular names.Asked how these names were chosen, Sharon replies: ‘South Africa’s population is diverse and we needed to ensure a fair distribution of names. Our research included working with the Department of Home Affairs; and we validated the lists through Mxit. We feel pretty certain we had a good representation of names.’‘Packaging plays a critical role in the campaign, because it connects the physical bottle with online communication channels, including social media and user-generated content sites,’ she adds.‘All marketing starts and ends with consumer insight,’ notes Sharon. ‘Understanding that and structuring marketing programmes to act on that insight is the way we do business. You need to personalise marketing campaigns and bring them into the local context in order to make them meaningful.’By this she means that, although Coca-Cola is an international brand, its marketing is essentially local. ‘That’s what people care about,’ Sharon states emphatically. ‘Everything we do in local communities, through local media, the packaging – everything needs to specially designed for South Africans.’The particular insight behind this campaign is that people love to see their names up in lights. It says ‘I see you, I recognise you.’‘It’s that recognition that everybody looks for and there’s nothing more personal than your name,’ Sharon continues.Among other promotional activities was the launch of an endearing TV commercial, ‘Share a Coke with Bobby’, in which the eponymous dog interacts with many people during a search for his own name.‘It’s great to see entertaining storytelling alongside a musical anthem that captures South African youth sub-cultures,’ states Sharon.South Africa is the first country on the African continent to launch the campaign. Cleverly customised by CCSA to fit local insights, culture and humour, it has clearly caught the imagination of consumers, so much so that the campaign has now moved into phase two.Undoubtedly this project could open the floodgates for personalised labelling in South Africa and break open an entirely new marketing sector. Back to top ^