Coca-Cola was found in 1886. Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist, created recipes for the syrup still used today. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, was credited with naming the beverage “Coca-Cola” (worldofcoca-cola.com). Now the Coca-Cola beverage is one of the most known sodas worldwide. “Today, daily servings of Coca-Cola beverages are estimated 1.9 billion globally” (worldofcoca-cola.com). Over the years the Cola bottle has taken many different forms. First beginning in a glass bottle, and now having evolved to a plastic bottle. Cola has done several different designs with their bottle for different marketing campaigns. In 2014 the newly introduced bottle was known as the Friendly Twist. The Friendly Twist is a new type of bottle that was created specifically for one campaign.
The Friendly Twist was launched last year in Columbia. The targeted goal of the campaign was to promote friendship, and happiness. Advertising agencies, The Leo Burnett Company, were the designers of the Friendly Twist bottle. The Burnett Company has worldwide offices, but the Leo Burnett Bogota (Columbia) was the specific office in charge of the bottle’s design. The Burnett Company created caps that fit together like puzzle pieces. For one to open their beverage they would need another person’s bottle. It resembles a lock and key; you can’t open one without the other. The idea of the friendly twist stemmed from a former marketing campaign called Share The Coke. Which was a campaign in Europe and Asia, in 2013. It had the same goal as the Friendly Twist campaign, but it used a can. The can was a regular sized pop can, but then split into two smaller ones to share. That campaign was such a success Coke wanted to do something similar in 2014.
After the bottle was designed and created it was sent out to a Columbian college to be tested. That is where students would get a unique surprise when retrieving their beverages. The University chose the first day of school to launch; in hopes that incoming freshmen would interact with each other. Most often college students tend to keep to themselves, and interact with each other on a needed basis. Similar to here at Washington Stat University Vancouver, students sit in the courtyard without much interaction. The Columbian school wanted to make their new students feel welcomed, by having them interact with their fellow students. Coca-Cola wanted to give students an icebreaker, but the school also wanted to focus on their freshmen class. At bigger Universities freshmen are the ones feeling new and uncomfortable. Coming to a new school is always scary, and college campuses can be big, so it was important to make the freshmen feel happy.
The campaign succeeded in creating various interactions among college students. At first many were confused as to why they couldn’t open their soda. There were little to no signs on how to open the bottle, so that forced many students to converse. After a while students figured it out, and began interacting with others to get their soda open. The pops were free which caused an array of students to be around the refrigerator, so finding a partner to open the pop wasn’t difficult. It didn’t matter if you walked up with a friend or not, because the bottle encouraged conversation among strangers as well. The whole idea was to talk to strangers and make a new friend on the first day. The fridge was also in a huge courtyard, which made it easier to observe. As people observed it made it inviting for them to join in on the fun. Of course that was a good tactic because when you see something interesting it draws you in to take a closer look. Which is what Coca-Cola did with the students.
Before Coca-Cola could launch a campaign of this size it needed to know its target audience. This can be used through market segmentation; which is dividing the market into distinct groups. There are many different types of marketing segmentation, and for the Friendly Twist campaign Coke used two main segmentations. The first was geographical segmentation. The launch of the Friendly Twist bottles only occurred in one specific region. Coke didn’t launch the bottles worldwide because they only wanted to focus on the University in Columbia. Then from there they could use social media to spread awareness of the campaign worldwide. The second main type of segmentation was, demographic. Demographic segmentation is basically utilizing people’s common characteristics. These characteristics can include age, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and educational background. This was an important segmentation tool because Coca-Cola launched the bottles at a college. College students make a great target audience because a vast amount of them have social media. Therefore when they shared the launch via twitter; people of that same demographic would be attracted to it. Everyone can relate to the Friendly Twist campaign, but since it originated at a college, more college students will relate to it.
The Friendly Twist marketing campaign promoted companionship, and friendly interactions. For this marketing plan Coca-Cola used two main mediums. YouTube was the first medium, which brought light to the Friendly Twist’s first public experiment. The second medium was Twitter. Coca-Cola could use real time marketing by the use of their hash tag (#FreindlyTwist) By using two mediums it delivered the message on a broader spectrum than just Columbia. It also opened up for the campaign to be shared on many other social media sites. YouTube is a media-sharing site. Which means published content can be shared users on other social networking sites. By using YouTube as a main medium people can share the video on almost every social media network on the Internet. By having the video shared on many outlets of media, it opens up a global marketing plan, rather than the specificity to one geographical area. Coca-Cola is already a global company, and marketing to a global economy can be hard. That’s why Coca-Cola needs other mediums besides television commercials, and magazine advertisements. They need a marketing plan to fit the scalability of their company.
For both of the mediums used in the Friendly Twist campaign, the fifth “p” of marketing was crucial. Participation on the public’s behalf is what drove this marketing campaign to success. Without the public actively participating in the social media aspects of this campaign’s promotion it wouldn’t have spread internationally. Coke didn’t pay people (paid media) to retweet the friendly twist video, or like the video. Therefore the public did most of the sharing, and spreading for the company. Coca-Cola marketers designed earned media to be huge part of their marketing plan. I’ll go more into depth about the tools of earned media Coke used later. Coca-Cola took a risk relying on social media users to be a part of their marketing plan, but Coke used many resourceful technics to make The Friendly Twist successful.
Another useful tool Coca-Cola used was linkbaiting. To help draw a users attention, a title can help lure users to your site. For example, the Journey Staff used the title ‘Friendly Twist’: Watch college freshmen bond over unique coke bottles. This article is directly on the Coca-Cola website, and sparks an interest with the title. The title is also catchy, and when searched on Google it’s one of the first articles that pop up. For linkbaiting to be successful it needs a hook. A hook is used to increase the likelihood of a users clicking on your content. In this particular campaign Cola uses a humor hook. This hook is designed to show entertainment to the user. Using the words college and bond in the title made the content sound interesting and entertaining. The marketing campaign is called Friendly Twist, which in it self already sounds intriguing. It gets people curious, and encourages people to look at their product.
Sharing tools are also directly linked to how marketing campaigns flow. Plug-ins, are clickable icons somewhere on the site that allows users to directly share that content. You may see Facebook and Tumblr icons in upper or bottom corners of news articles. That is a form of a plug-in used by the author, or website. For example, Dispensing Happiness: 12 Innovative Coca-Cola Vending Machine in Action by Jay Moye, has six different plug-ins on the upper right corner of the article. Sharing is just a click away by utilizing plug-ins. This opens up the ability for even more sharing, because now users aren’t just sharing Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign through YouTube. Users can share various articles that they have read about your campaign directly through social media. Another positive is that many of the articles I looked at about the Friendly Twist contained a link to the Friendly Twist YouTube video. Those articles are redirecting, and boosting views for Coca-Cola.
An important part of the shared tools used by Coca-Cola are the influencers. Influencers are mass media connectors that will deliver a company’s message to the social community. The social media community is huge, so choosing who else you want to be delivering your message is important. We as humans are heavily influenced by many different things. Coca-Cola’s biggest influencers were Mavens. Mavens are people who are knowledgeable about certain subjects. On Twitter, countless marketing experts shared their article about the Friendly Twist. It was beneficial to Coke because the marketing experts expressed the positive marketing tactics used by their campaign. Mavens are a good source of media connectors, because the public tends to believe people who are experts in certain areas. Coca-Cola hasn’t just had the Friendly Twist praised; many of their other unique campaigns have been written about.
Coca-Cola uses a lot of different marketing tools for the Friendly Twist campaign. However, their biggest used tool is earned media. Coca-Cola uses brand fans and word-of-mouth communication as their main earned media sources. Earned media is hard to obtain, but Coca-Cola does a adequate job of earning it. I talked a little bit about earned media before; and brand fans are a result of gaining earned media. Brand fans are people who are enthusiastic about a certain brand, and display their loyalty to it. This tactic is also called friendvertising. The brand builds relationships with the costumers, and does different things to maintain the community happiness. Today with social media it is so easy to show how much you like a brand. You can simply like their page on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram. When a brand has a lot of followers, it is then easy to engage customers/fans in an upcoming product. The brand fans of Coca-Cola can follow Coke, and then share campaigns such as the Friendly Twist. Those brand fans are going to be a core group of users who first see the marketing campaign, because they follow Coca-Cola directly. It’s also important to acknowledge some of those people as a brand. A company can retweet something with the designated hashtag, or following a loyal brand fan. It shows positive brand engagement, and encourages more customers to be brand fans. I think this tactic was only right because the designed purpose of the Friendly Twist bottles was to increase friendly encounters among students. Coca-Cola was smart is using earned media and brand fans as a strategy, because it shows the corporation can interact with its customers in a friendly way. Launching campaigns similar to the Friendly Twist can be a way of giving back to customers, and generate new customers.
Word-of- mouth communication (WOM) is the second part to earned media used in this marketing ploy. Word-of-mouth is also called influence impressions, and can also be similar to word-of-mouse communication. The difference being word-of-mouse is the digital version of word-of-mouth communication. Word-of-mouth communication is a tricky tactic, because it requires positive communication to flow across vast amounts of people. For this tactic to be affective a company needs to create a stunt designed to generate social media attention. Coca-Cola succeeded in doing that with the Friendly Twist. They tested the bottles at the University then posted it for the public to see generating attention. Their YouTube video showed the public a unique bottle in hopes of it sparking conversation between people, and then digitally. People who see the video are more likely to go tell their friend about the video. That is the type of communication a company wants because it’s face to face communication between friends. Friends conversing about a brand will encourage one to experience what their other friend experienced. It’s that feeling of being in the loop about what friends are talking about. As people we rely and prefer personal opinions when wanting information about a commodity. One should hope the communication flowing is positive though, because negative word-of-mouth communication hinders the campaign. People are more likely to remember a negative experience rather than a positive one. Luckily for this campaign Coca-Cola mainly had positive feedback. I’m not sure how much word-of-mouth communication the company acquired, but they received a lot of word-of-mouse. The video earned many shared links on Twitter; and many of them were regular people. An example of this would be, Coca-Cola brand fans retweet their hashtag, and by doing that it spreads the Friendly Twist to the brand fans’ friends. I found a guy on Twitter who had over one hundred followers, so for him to retweet the Friendly Twist means the campaign is reaching on hundred more people. This way Coca-Cola is reaching consumers not directly following them.
Any marketing plan that involves social media as a marketing tool should expect some sort of back lash. It is hard to predict and monitor what people are going to say online. What I found Coca-Cola did well was respond to some of these comments. Most companies ignore these comments; when Coca-Cola takes on the challenge. On Twitter Coca-Cola Netherlands responded to a sarcastic comment about the Friendly Twist. The user mentioned that getting two bottles could solve the problem of making friends. I guess if you’re a lonesome person that would work, but completely misses the point of the Friendly Twist. Then very nicely worded, the company responded with a witty comment. Many companies should use that tactic more often because it shows a humorous side to the company. And it shows that the company pays attention to all the feedback it’s getting. Many aim for humorous marketing plans, and that tweet alone aloud a small portion of it. By being funny, users are intrigued to search for the topic of conversation, and in this case it’s the Friendly Twist. Coca-Cola surprisingly talks to their fans frequently. Coca-Cola France’s Twitter thanked a marketing expert for their article on the Friendly Twist. As I mentioned earlier experts (Mavens) are great influencers, so it was knowledgeable to tweet the expert back.
The Friendly Twist marketing ploy was related to many other friendship-based campaigns, which I’ll mention later. This marketing plan had many positive impacts to it, and was well enjoyed by the public. The Friendly Twist YouTube video has over nine million views from when it was first published. To add to its views, the video also has 32,000 likes. For the most part the Twitter responses and YouTube comments were positive. Every so often a tweet or YouTube comment would be negative, or sarcastic. The Friendly Twist YouTube video only has 1,000 dislikes; which is a good ratio compared to its likes.
Overall the marketing plan was a success. Much of that has to do with many other Coca-Cola marketing campaigns that advocate friendship. Fairly recently Coke has been promoting happiness, and companionship. In the past years Coke has been pitted against Pepsi, and had their popular Coca-Cola polar bears. In the past few years Coke has progressed into a happiness themed marketing plan. Coca-Cola has many other launches similar to The Friendly Twist campaign, and seen much success with them. Such as, The Friendship machine, Happiness Strikes machine, Bust a Move machine, and the Sing For Me machine (Moye). Coca-Cola has done a lot with their vending machines, and just recently started doing things with their bottles. The Friendly Twist deputed in 2014, and just this year (2015) Coke did the Share a Coke campaign. Coca-Cola is seeing a lot of results with the friendship and happiness aspect of marketing. The Friendly Twist bottles were free, so no profit was received at that time. However, The Friendship Machine (2011) has eight hundred cokes bought for every nine hours of vending (Moye). Coke is receiving more positive feedback than negative, so it would be logically to continue this new marketing plan for them.
Coca-Cola could have done things a lot differently with this campaign, but I think they nailed it. After the Columbian launch Coke could have sent these bottles out worldwide. But they didn’t and kept it exclusively for the Columbian University to experience. I read many tweets that asked if Coke planned on bringing it to any other country, and so far it hasn’t made an appearance. I think later on in the future I would launch this again; possibly at another college in another country. Because in my opinion college can be so stressful that it would be good to bring a positive light to another campus.
By promoting happiness it is more likely that customers will respond positively. Consumers often always remember humorous or negative things, so by Coca-Cola doing something different sets them apart from others. Not only will customers respond positively, but they will remember it better. The Friendly Twist viewers may always remember how they felt watching the video; thus resulting in thinking of Coca-Cola in a positive manner. Not just the viewers will recall the Friendly Twist, but the participants as well. The Friendly Twist participants are going to always remember when they participated in something special. Since the Friendly Twist only launched in Columbia, it will give those participants a sense of specialty. These students got to be a part of something on a larger scale than just their school. Some of them get to say they are associated with Coke by being in their advertisement. Now when these students think of Coca-Cola as a brand, they can associate the brand with the experience they had with this campaign launch. Coca-Cola just sets themselves apart from other brands with unique marketing plans like this. No other company has bottles like the Friendly Twist, or Share the Coke cans. Simple things like a beverage container can make a brand more memorable than another. Also, everyone likes the feeling of happiness. When you see people smiling and having fun it makes you feel happy. No soda brand is promoting happiness as much as Coke is. They have seen the results from their previous happiness related campaigns and those were successful. The Friendly Twist didn’t need a television commercial, because Coke knew which outlets of media they wanted to use. Coca-Cola is a huge brand; and whoever is in charge of their social media marketing office is very tactful. Because, if Coca-Cola’s main goal is to spread happiness then they’re doing a great job so far.
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