How Coca-Cola is putting the fizz into its comms

Over the past few days I’ve been reading about Coca-Cola and how it is shaking up the way it communicates, both with its employees and its customers. I always find it interesting to know what brands are doing, so thought I’d highlight what I’ve been reading for the benefit of other comms professionals.

I came across a video from Coca-Cola which profiles their marketing strategy for using new media to ‘transform one-way storytelling into dynamic storytelling’. It’s quite unusual to have a glimpse into such thinking and I think it’s a smart move to make it public. You can view it here.

The company says their aim is to ‘add value and significance to peoples lives’ and the image on this page shows the five different storytelling scenarios the company has identified: serial, multi-faceted, spreadable, immersion and discovery and engagement through storytelling. I’ve covered storytelling a number of times on my blog and have added further reading below.

Telling an emotional story
Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-President, Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company is the person responsible for leading global creative vision and strategy for the company’s portfolio of global brands. He is quoted as saying: “Every contact point with a customer should tell an emotional story”. I like his viewpoint and the style of the film, particularly because it highlights the importance of creating ideas that don’t just invite dialogue but action too. It also talks about the importance of ‘data whisperers’ to drive change and awareness. Great name!

The company is also opening up its product development pipeline to its customers through a Facebook campaign to ask its 50 million fans to suggest a cause, invention or social app that could spread ‘happiness’. Would this tactic work for your organisation? Do you think the perception of Coca-Cola’s brand means that this enables them to do campaigns like this?

So that’s  what they are doing externally, but what about internally? This week I read a story by Marketing magazine in Australia, which said that Coca-Cola “is going through a phase of risk awareness rather than risk aversion and moderninsing its secretive culture to foster more of a ‘sharing formula’”. It also mentioned that they have introduced social networking tool Chatter to enable staff to share ideas locally and globally.

It quoted the company’s global director of innovation, Anthony Newstead as saying the process of securing buy-in from senior executives and flattening the hierarchy of the business did not come without its challenges (how many times have we all had that conversation?!), he says: “You need to have a good way to communicate for that to work and email is not it: social collaboration is the way to go” and “you have to move away from a command control top down secretive model to a more collaborative one.” Couldn’t agree more.

Further reading
I recently highlighted how Coca-Cola Enterprises is using Chatter when Neil Jenkins, Director of Internal and Digital Communication wrote a guest article for my blog. You can read it here.

Coach Vera Woodhead wrote for my blog about how storytelling can be used within an organisation to inspire employees. You can read it here

What is your view on what Coca-Cola is doing? Is there anything there which would work for your organisation or has inspired you? What brands would you be interested in reading more about on my blog? As ever, thanks for stopping by and feel free to comment below, Rachel.


  1. Thanks for sharing Rachel. Great post. I 100% agree that storytelling is an essential part of any communications strategy and one that is often over looked. Brave of Coca-cola sharing this strategy in the public domain, but I do like it.

  2. Hi Rachel, great post. I’ve been involved in some of the co-creation projects but hadn’t seen the video you’ve linked here. Really interesting. One of the projects we worked on crowdsourced video for Coke Zero. The winning entry is stunning, funny and highlights the spirit of Coke’s push for creativity. It featured at Cannes Lions a couple of years ago and you can see it here:

  3. Thank you for your comment Gents, I’m glad you liked the article.

    Ralph that video is great, what an innovative solution! I’d not seen that before, thanks for sharing, Rachel

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