Share a Coke campaign: A desperate ploy to bring in revenue

Coca-Cola Advertising

Meanwhile, at Coca-Cola headquarters…  |  Francis Emelogu/The Cougar

As August came to a close, so did Coca-Cola’s ineffectual “Share a Coke” campaign — the memory of which is sure to fade faster than many summer tans.

Back in June, Coke began replacing its logo with a smattering of popular names, written in its iconic text, in effort to get their product in your hands and, presumably, the hands of your friends as well. The basic assumption being that if one’s name graces the side of the can, then he or she is likely to buy it because it’s personalized.

While few can deny the beverage’s delicious flavor, there was a hint of desperation to this campaign that left a sour taste. When a company has to resort to gimmicks in order for a product to sell, it’s an indication that something has gone very wrong.

Although the Coca-Cola brand remains profitable, the company has been dealing with the disappointing sales of its namesake beverage for some time now.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that American consumption of Coke has been on the decline for the better part of 15 years, spelling trouble for a company that “derives almost 75 percent of its global sales volume from carbonated soft drinks.”

Additionally, the Huffington Post reported that each American drank about 54 gallons of soda per year in 1998; by 2013 that number dropped to 39 gallons, a decline that analysts project to continue.

It seems that sugary, carbonated beverages are simply not as commonplace as they once were — tastes and opinions are changing.

A 30 percent decrease in consumption indicates a systemic change in the way people perceive soda. It appears the philanthropic efforts, like those of First Lady Michelle Obama, to increase public awareness of obesity are beginning to pay dividends.

Americans are becoming more conscious of their weight and, more importantly, their overall health and are less willing to drink their calories. Caloric intake aside, consumers are also choosing to limit their intake of diet sodas, which contain synthetic sugar substitutes.

“I don’t drink much soda anymore because of the expense and health concerns — I’ve been trying to avoid Diet Coke because of the artificial sweetener aspartame that’s in it,” said English doctoral candidate Elizabeth Keating.

Whether speaking of calories or chemicals, health is the overarching theme and soda is perceived as being insalubrious. In other words, Coke has a serious image problem.

Given the fact that soda sales continue to drop, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola’s nemesis, has been proactively focusing on its snack food division. It may come as a surprise that Frito-Lay and Quaker Oats, each offering an impressive number of products, are both holdings of PepsiCo.

According to the Washington Post, “Carbonated soft drinks make up only about a quarter of Pepsi’s U.S. sales, compared to 60 percent at Coke.”

Pepsi is outpacing its competitor in terms of adapting to changing demands in the marketplace. Rather than trying to convince consumers to purchase products that aren’t selling, Pepsi centers its attention on what is.

Meanwhile at Coca-Cola, in spite of the increased sales of the company’s offerings of juices, water and sports drinks, they continue to pump money into its poorest performer: Coke.

Over the next 3 years, Coca-Cola will spend 3 billion dollars stepping up its advertising, which is pretty unnecessary; if there’s one thing they’ve mastered, it’s brand recognition.

Everyone knows that Coke is out there, people just don’t want it. Coca-Cola, however, is sure that the customer can be convinced otherwise.

The Share a Coke campaign has been reintroduced to persuade consumers to buy their product. Despite noble efforts, the company reported a 3 percent decline in revenue for the first half of 2014.

Share a coke? Not so much, and this isn’t the first time Coke has had issues. Art senior Andy Kirkendall said that he remembers the addition of New Coke being quite a blunder.

For those unfamiliar with this huge flop, Kirkendall is referring to the formula change of the classic Coke recipe in the mid-1980s. Consumers were outraged and the company quickly returned to the original, increasing sales.

Some believe that the reformulation was just a marketing ploy orchestrated by Coca-Cola. Whether New Coke was one big scheme may never be known, but Share a Coke certainly has gimmick written all over it.

Personalized cans shouldn’t be necessary for the product to sell. In fact, it should serve as a giant red flag. Rather than attempting to force the customer’s hand, Coca-Cola would be better off letting consumer trends speak for themselves and responding accordingly, as Pepsi has done.

Take a lesson, Coke — your competition understands your consumers better than you do.

Opinion columnist Jonathan Bolan is an English graduate student and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.


Share a Coke campaign: A desperate ploy to bring in revenue” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

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