Share a Coke

Your name is your personality, identity, and character summed up in a couple of letters, and also the reason Coca Cola raised its sales last year. Over the past decade, the demand for soft drinks has steadily decreased as the public has become more aware of the health concerns associated with a can of soda. Nonetheless, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Coca Cola Company managed to reverse 11 years of declining sales in the United States thanks, in large part, to its “Share a Coke” campaign.

 As part of this campaign, the company printed the 250 most popular millennial names on coke bottles, sold customizable coke products online, and also allowed customers to share virtual coke bottles through social media. Wells Fargo security analysts noted that the Coca Cola Company experienced an 8 percent increase in dollar sales during the period of this campaign while its major competitors, PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., continued to see a decline in sales. At first glance, it’s baffling that simply printing names on soda products can boost sales. However, a quick analysis of the campaign reveals its ingenuity.

Susan Solovic, a business expert and a New York Times best-selling author, asserts that “consumers tune out mass marketing because they are bombarded by it everywhere. A personalized message that is relevant is much more likely to attract their attention and to seem more credible.” Perhaps this is a major reason the campaign was so successful. It personally connected Coca Cola with its customers by giving them the chance to tell their own story through a bottle of coke and calling on them to share the experience with others.  

Another reason that could explain the success of “Share a Coke” is that the campaign relied on customers to advertise Coca Cola products themselves. With the exception of the virtual bottles created by Coca Cola, most of the content posted on social media developed organically from customers using the “#shareacoke” hashtag.   Facebook posts like the picture of a man using customized coke bottles to propose to his girlfriend immediately made the movement viral.  According to Coca Cola, the photo (pictured below) received 1 million likes and 50,000 shares on Facebook. 

Evan Tarver of estimates that about a half a million photos were shared using the “#shareacoke” hashtag and that Coca Cola gained 26 millions of followers on Facebook . This extensive amount of consumer created content on social media increased exposure to Coca Cola products, which, in turn, drove up sales.

In an era where the Internet plays such a vital role in society, it is no surprise that an advertising campaign built around social media was remarkably successful. It will be interesting to see if Coca Cola will utilize social media in its new “Taste the Feeling” campaign to continue the success of “Share a Coke.”