An external marketing campaign can be a great chance to get employees closer to customers and consumers as well as enhance brand loyalty internally. Sam Boniface reports on how Coca-Cola engaged its employees at the start of its massive European Summer promotion ‘Share a Coke’.
In May, more than 800 people across multiple capital cities in Europe took to the streets to sample Coca-Cola as part of the brand’s innovative ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. But these were not actors or PR specialists – these were Coca-Cola employees from across the entire business.
Acting as brand ambassadors, they had a unique chance to interact directly with their consumers by sharing an ice cold Coca-Cola in their local communities, and they grasped the sampling opportunity with both hands.
Teams of associates from the North West Europe and Nordics (NWEN) region spent the day in six cities – Copenhagen, London, Dublin, Rotterdam, Brussels and Paris – sharing more than 145,000 ice cold cans of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke or Coke Zero with passers-by, before celebrating with colleagues at informal barbecues in the evening.
So what was it that drove them to be such a big part of the initiative?
According to Head of Brand PR Joan O’Connor, the opportunity to meet customers face to face was an incentive in itself.
She said: “One of our company’s strongest assets are our people and developing a compelling, engaging and fun opportunity for them to be part of our marketing programme right from the start was compelling
“The idea of getting everyone out on the streets across multiple locations to actually share a Coke with consumers themselves, has been extremely motivating.
“Coke is such a democratic brand and everyone who could be was involved across NWEN business unit – the biggest surprise and feedback from the team involved was how responsive consumers were to our brand and how happy the simple act sharing a Coke made everyone feel!”
Hanna Sjoestroem, NWEN Senior Brand Manager, Coca-Cola, added: “The day was an overwhelmingly positive experience, a memory for life. Share a Coke is all about connecting with people around us and sharing moments of togetherness, so there’s no better way of bringing that alive for our employees than to go out and experience it for themselves.”
In Central and Southern Europe (CSE), where more than 30,000 people work in offices and factories for Coca-Cola and its bottling partner Coca-Cola Hellenic, teams were encouraged to celebrate moments of togetherness both online through internal and external social media and offline in local activities.
For example, in the Czech Republic, employees arriving at the office were given a can of Coca-Cola printed with the name of another random colleague.
Their challenge was to find that person and enjoy a Share a Coke moment.
The same idea was used at Coca-Cola Hellenic in Romania. Once colleagues had found the person matching the name on the can, they joined them in a special Share a Coke chill-out zone to relax and a chat.
Romanian colleagues also enjoyed a Share a Coke surprise, receiving cans carrying the names of their loved ones. Games, hosted by two of the country’s famous TV presenters, were also organised with prizes including vouchers and tokens for the cinema, shopping and dinners so associates could share time out of the office together.
In Italy, each employee went into work to find his or her personalised bottle waiting on their desk. All employees also had the opportunity to customise a can with the name of their choice, thanks to a Share a Coke can ‘customiser machine’ in the office reception.
Offices in Bulgaria and Croatia were decorated to get employees into the Share a Coke spirit, with team-members receiving a personalised bottle, complete with a festive ribbon.
Marit Kroon, CSE Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola, said: “We wanted everyone to Share a Coke and moments of happiness together.
“Whether it is the person who sits next to you, on the floor above, or even someone you have never spoken to, this was the perfect opportunity to come together to celebrate Coca-Cola and the people who are always there for us.”
About the campaign
The 2013 Share a Coke campaign is one of the brand’s biggest marketing campaigns to date, running across Europe and on more than one billion packs.
The campaign first launched in Australia two years ago, where it achieved huge success.
In three months, the company saw a five per cent increase in the amount of people drinking Coke, a three per cent increase in sales, 870 per cent increase in Facebook traffic and more than 370,000 extra customised cans of Coke printed at special kiosks.
The European campaign was launched in April and in Britain, the iconic brand name on 500ml and 750ml bottles has been replaced with 150 of the UK’s favourite names, while on larger bottles the words ‘family’ and ‘friends’ feature.
The idea is to get consumers sharing a Coke and to encourage social media activity by posting pictures of themselves with bottles featuring their own name, or that of family and friends.