Coke Looks to Get Pop From New Ad Campaign

Parker Eshelman/Wall Street Journal

Coca-Cola Co. is hoping to get a badly needed pop from a new global advertising campaign for its flagship cola.

The soda giant known for iconic ads featuring Santa Claus and polar bears is expected to unveil the campaign this week with the tagline: “Taste the Feeling,” according to people familiar with the matter. It will replace “Open Happiness,” which was launched in 2009.

A Coke spokesman declined to comment on the new campaign.

Atlanta-based Coke is trying to jump-start sales, as consumers around the world cut back on sugary drinks due to health concerns. The company’s soda volumes rose just 1% in the first nine months of 2015 and soda consumption in the U.S. has been declining for more than a decade.

A lot is at stake for Marcos de Quinto, the company veteran who took over as chief marketing officer a year ago, part of a broader company shake-up that included a $3 billion cost-cutting plan and the departure of several senior executives.

The new campaign will focus on the refreshing taste of the famous cola, while telling stories about special moments in life—with a bottle of Coke at the center of it all, bringing people together.

That represents a shift from “Open Happiness,” which played up the 130-year-old brand’s role in having fun and as a force for good, but spent less time showing people drinking the beverage.

Coke’s biggest challenge is to reverse the rising tide of critics who blame sugary sodas for helping to fuel obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. The World Health Organization recommends keeping added sugars to below 10% of daily calories—less than in a 20-ounce bottle of regular soda.

Earlier this year, the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest spoofed Coke’s iconic 1971 commercial in which hundreds of young people from around the world sing, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” on a hilltop. In the remake, which has been viewed more than 375,000 times on YouTube since June, hospital patients sing, “I’d like to buy the world a drink that doesn’t cause disease.”

Americans also have been turning their backs on zero-calorie sodas such as Diet Coke because of concerns about artificial sweeteners, even though the Food and Drug Administration and other health authorities say such sweeteners are safe.

Coke says soda makes up a small part of most people’s diets and that it is unfairly being singled out for contributing to obesity and other health problems.

The company, however, increasingly is trying to market soda as a treat after rolling out ever-larger container sizes for decades, often at heavily discounted prices.

More recently, Coke began selling smaller containers, including 7.5-ounce mini cans that have fewer calories but are priced higher on a per-ounce basis.

Written by Mike Esterl and Suzanne Vranica of The Wall Street Journal 

(Source: The Wall Street Journal)

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