'Share a Coke' Campaign Quenches Consumers' Thirst for Nostalgia

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Over the years, many have come to associate Coca-Cola with adorable polar bears. Every Christmas, they slip and slide across the North Pole while guzzling their favorite soda. But, as the brand breaks free from this holiday affiliation, its summertime 'Share a Coke' campaign has made an indelible mark on the way consumers perceive the product and its values.
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Over the years, many have come to associate Coca-Cola with adorable polar bears. Every Christmas, they slip and slide across the North Pole while guzzling their favorite soda. But, as the brand breaks free from this holiday affiliation, its summertime 'Share a Coke' campaign has made an indelible mark on the way consumers perceive the product and its values.For many, soft drinks have become taboo as the health-conscious fight to reduce obesity and diabetes by shunning these sugary liquids. Thus, as Coca-Cola works to repair and maintain its classic reputation, the brand has turned to nostalgic advertising to recapture elements of the past and return to an era of togetherness.

Nostalgic advertising typically refers to the revitalization of an old campaign for modern audiences, which may include refreshing an old jingle or incorporating older attitudes and visual creative. Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign serves as an updated version of the company's 'I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke' promotion from the 1970s. However, Coca-Cola has swapped singers on the hillside for personalized Coke bottles instead. From generic suggestions, such as Mom or Friend, to specific names, such as Chris and Jess, this campaign has consumers scouring the shelves to find the perfect bottle for themselves and their loved ones.

Rick Miller, vice president of strategic insights at Networked Insights, highlights that, since the promotions' inception, online consumer sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive (45 percent), with very few negative conversations (5 percent) occupying the social sphere. Brand lift has also increased by 11.8 percent in the subsequent months, demonstrating the campaign's reach and influence. Yet, while Coca-Cola's promotions have seen significant success thus far, Miller cautions companies who may be considering similar endeavors.

"Nostalgia isn't enough to make a campaign go viral on its own," Miller says. "Brands need to do their research, both in identifying their target audience and learning what else that audience cares about. From there, marketers should measure results through more than 'likes' and clicks. Too often, marketers settle for subpar metrics in determining campaign success. With a properly identified audience, brands can record more telling metrics such as purchase intent, brand health, and brand awareness. Having fun, relevant content with a clear promotion and call-to-action are not the only elements of a successful campaign, because without a properly targeted audience and metrics to match, even the most creative campaign can fall flat."

Coca-Cola, for instance, used the themes of community and friendship from its previous 1970s campaign as the prime influence for its current advertisements. Compare each campaign's accompanying TV commercials below:

I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke

Share a Coke

Both campaigns encourage consumers to share with their friends and fellow humans in an effort to both sell the product and establish an atmosphere of goodwill and kindness--two values everyone can support. So far, the 'Share a Coke' concept truly seems to be generating social buzz, but only time will tell the sort of impact it's had on the brand's bottom line.

Do you think Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign was successful or silly? What types of nostalgic campaigns would you like to see from your favorite brands? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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