Coca-Cola leads the charge in content marketing

September 9, 2013Uncategorized

Coca-Cola leads the charge in content marketing


The Australian content marketing field has some strong contenders. There’s the union of MasterChef and Coles and of course the AFL’s personal newsroom, but it wasn’t until the big players successfully joined that content marketing had an impact worldwide.

Driven by the buzz around content marketing, Coca-Cola launched a big-scale international content campaign in 2011. Two years on, it’s easy to see how this campaign changed the way big brands see content marketing.


The idea

Led by Jonathan Mildenhall, Coke launched “Content 2020” – his creative vision to steer Coke marketing away from creative excellence and towards content excellence. The plan was hinged on their ability to encourage, through brand storytelling, an explosion of Coke-related user-generated content and – as he hoped – virality. But you can’t plan for virality… or can you?

Welcoming an idea known as “liquid and linked” – a liquid explosion of ideas that link to their consumers’ interests and business objectives – Coke did just that. In 2012 Coca-Cola Journey was born – a site that hosts Coke’s home-grown stories. Their content is a mix of slideshares, articles, images, infographics and videos, with easy social-sharing functions.

Coca-Cola Journey has attracted an average of 1.2 million unique visitors per month, it has penetrated the web with over 40,000 shares and it embodies the idea of dynamic storytelling. Not only do they reach their customer base, but they act and react to their customer’s 24/7 demands.

What works?

While one part of Coca-Cola’s success is definitely their understanding and implementation of a dynamic storytelling initiative, the second part is the manner in which they approach content marketing.

1.    Transparency

Hosting the brand’s internal marketing strategy online was a smart move by Coca-Cola. Not only do I trust their objectives – and thus inevitably their message – but I begin to see Coke as a genuine business with real-world concerns. This is a business (one that markets and sells sugary drinks) that recently confronted the issue of obesity.

Forgiving the fact that I sought out their marketing video, the site makes it very obvious this is branded content. Coca-Cola recognises they are talking to a group of consumers who already have a stake in their brand.

2.    Leverage your existing customer base

In 2011 they recognised that consumer-generated stories significantly outnumbered their company stories, despite a considerable chunk of their budget being dedicated to marketing. Coca-Cola turned these numbers on their head, earning them brand recognition online as well as business. Pool your resources and house your employee, brand and company stories in one place.

3.    Don’t be static

To get a little philosophical here, let’s take a look at the tagline of the site: “Success is not a destination, but a journey.” Coca-Cola tackles four types of storytelling: serial storytelling; multifaceted storytelling; spreadable storytelling; and immersion and discovery storytelling. Their website ensures their content creates conversations, and this can then move freely through the web. Functionality is crucial.

4.    Don’t sacrifice your brand for your consumer

This is obvious but important. You are hosting your brand experience, so filtering what makes it through the sieve is important. Without it you are just creating noise.

What to expect

Coca-Cola’s Journey proved to big brands that microsites, online magazines and dedicated websites work as long as you have a big-picture understanding of your customer. But what’s next?

Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall is joining the stellar lineup at Content Marketing World this year. With a passion for digital, we expect to see new things that will shake up the content marketing playing field. Watch this space as we bring you news from CMW!

Abbey Ford – Community Manager 

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