Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Art of Harmony

The annual “Art of Harmony” competition is an art contest put on by Coca Cola. Nationally, high school students can submit their work for this competition in order to be in the running to win U.S. Savings Bonds and cash rewards. In addition, these artists will get exposure for their work to the American public. The judges from Coca-Cola choose the winners based on the appropriateness to the theme, which is “living in harmony”. The winners are also chosen based on creativity, originality, composition, and design. The artwork also has to be related to Coke in some way. This competition is a great way for Coca-Cola to get some of their target audience involved with the brand. The contest will also encourage interaction between the brand and the consumer because it will get them thinking about Coke and how it relates to their art. If you notice, the theme, "Art of Harmony", emphasizes the ideas of peace, love, and unity that Coca-Cola often employs in their advertisements. The company has done an excellent job of picking qualities that they believe are important to their brand image and keeping these themes consistent in their advertising throughout the years.
            When I was in high school, I interned with a public relations firm whose client was Coca-Cola. Our job for part of the summer was to publicize the Art of Harmony contest in the Houston area. Then, after the winners were chosen, we got to set up a display in a local gallery showing all of the art work that was chosen from the contest. It opened my eyes to all the different ways people relate to Coca-Cola and, in some cases, allowed me to see Coke in a way that I had never thought of it before. Here are some of the pieces of art that have won the competition in the past years:

International Advertising

One of the reasons why Coca-Cola has been so successful is due to the extensive advertising the company participates in on an international level. Not only is Coke a widespread and popular brand in the United States, but its products is sold in over 200 countries worldwide. The Coca-Cola logo is recognized by countries all over the world, and has become a universal symbol which can be associated with the brand image that Coke has developed over the years.
            It was Robert Woodruff who spent 60 years introducing Coca-Cola to the rest of the world. He and his team of advertisers worked hard to develop ads that personally target each country that it was displayed in. The language was changed on the advertisements so that it matched the language of each certain country where the advertisement took place. In addition to the language, the race of the people seen in each ad was adapted to the same race of the people in that country. Although these elements of the ad might have changed, there is one thing that remained consistent in all of the advertisements: the Coca-Cola logo. Also, the theme of each ad from the same time period, but not necessarily the same country was consistent. For example, the ads for Spain and Germany in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s depicted an attractive woman from each country drinking a Coke.

1940 Spanish advertisement meaning "refresh"

1937 German advertisement

            In conclusion, Coca-Cola has maintained a consistent brand image worldwide throughout all of its advertising. It has also demonstrated a pattern of having similar ads in each country, but the company adjusts the ads to appeal to each country. The feel of the ads makes the target audience want to buy more Coke products. Overall, Coca-Cola has managed to have a successful campaign for their product which is now a universal symbol, recognizable wherever you may be in the world.

Strategy Through Sponsorships

One of the reasons Coca-Cola has been so successful is due to the excessive amount of sponsorships, advertisements, and other techniques they have used to get their brand name out to the public. It seems as though everywhere we look we see the Coca-Cola logo. Ever since Coke was brought to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, it has skyrocketed in the number of events it has sponsored. It sponsors sporting events, concerts, televised programs, and many more events.
            When Coke sponsors a sporting event, usually only products made by Coca-Cola are sold at the event. This promotes the brand because the more people you see drinking a certain drink, the more you want to try or purchase that drink for yourself. This is a subtle, but effective way for Coca-Cola to publicize their brand. Whenever you see a person drinking a drink, you don’t specifically think about the brand, but you do become curious as to why that person chose that drink. As a result, you tend to want to try it yourself. On the other hand, if you see someone drinking a beverage that you really like, it reminds you about that drink and will lead to you wanting to buy one. This “quieter” method of advertising used by Coke has proven to be extremely effective.
            On the other hand, when Coca-Cola sponsors a televised program, they get to advertise their product and they become associated with that program. For example, when a show comes on, it will often say, “this show is brought to you by Coca-Cola”, and then a Coke ad will play. Coca-Cola chooses to sponsor shows that will continue to keep their positive brand image. For example, they sponsor A Charlie Brown Christmas. This is a popular seasonal episode that is aired around Christmas time. A lot of families watched this show together, so Coke is clearly trying to convey a family-oriented brand image. In addition, Christmas is associated with Santa Claus, and Coke was the original creator of the Santa that we picture today.
            In conclusion, Coca-Cola is very smart in planning their advertising placement. They also know the right events to sponsor in order to get the word out about their products to the most customers. The people behind the planning of these sponsorships and advertisement are really smart and know how to start widespread buzz about their products.

Below is an example of Coca-Cola promoting themselves during the Charlie Brown Christmas program:

Do You Know When You Are Seeing an Advertisement?

We are surrounded by advertising everywhere we look, even when we do not realize it. Coca-Cola has done a fantastic job of placing its logo almost everywhere we go to the point that we might not even know we are seeing an advertisement for the brand. The brand has become engraved in our minds so that we sometimes do not even know that we are seeing an advertisement anymore. Also, there is often so much clutter because we see so many brand logos around the city that we do not consciously recognize advertisements when we see them. Just seeing someone with a Coke in their hand is an advertisement for the Coca-Cola because we see the brand logo again. Here are some images of some places Coke placed an ad or their logo that I thought were clever:

Times Square in New York City

Then vs. Now

One method Coca-Cola used to appeal to a wide audience was remaking a commercial from the 1980’s. Watch the original version of the commercial from 1980 featuring Joe Green:

Now watch the newer twist on the commercial for Coke Zero, which aired in 2009:

Those who have been loyal Coke drinkers over the decades might recognize the Coke Zero commercial as a spin off of the 1980’s advertisement featuring Joe Green. These customers who have been brand loyal to Coke for so many years might find humor in the new commercial. It also demonstrates Coke's since this commercial is being brought back from almost thirty years earlier.  In addition, those who have never seen the 1980’s version of this ad would probably think the commercial was funny because you do not have to know the background on the ad to get the humor. I think it is very interesting that Coke chose to remake this commercial. People like things that they can relate to, and remembering an ad from the past brings back the ideas of tradition loyalty that Coca-Cola likes to emphasize through their advertising.  

Comparing Various Coca-Cola Product's Advertisements

Coca-Cola sells over 3,500 different kinds of beverages. The company’s product list includes a variety of drinks from sodas, to water, to juices, to teas and coffee, and even energy drinks. I thought it would be interesting to view commercials for a few of these products and compare and contrast the techniques that each uses. It is interesting to see the similarities in the strategies that Coca-Cola uses to campaign for each product, even though they are very different kinds of drinks who might appeal to different target markets.



Minute Maid:



            In all of these commercials for the various Coca-Cola products, there are certain themes that seem to reoccur. When I was watching them, I noticed that all of the people featured in the commercials seem to have some kind of power. They all either started a movement involving a lot of people, or they have some kind of influence over the other people in the commercials. Coca-Cola is probably trying to get the idea across to their target audience that, by drinking their products, you will gain a sense of empowerment. In addition to having a kind of strength, they also seem to exercise a sense of freedom. They all seem to have no restraints on their actions. Lastly, the characters in the commercials are all having fun. Coca-Cola seems to want to demonstrate that, by drinking their products, you will have a good time. All of the people are smiling, laughing, and seem to be having a great time with friends and the ones they love.
            Although there are many similarities in themes between the commercials for the various Coca-Cola products, there are also differences. The commercials tend to have similarities to the drink they are advertising. For example, the Coke commercial shows soccer players from all over the world. I think this is because Coke is the most universally recognized drink that Coca-Cola sells. On the other hand, the Fanta commercial is filled with bright colors and peppy characters. The color scheme of the commercial goes with the vivacious colors of the drinks themselves, while the energetic music tries to give off a sense of the excitement you will feel if you drink a Fanta. Each brand of drink designs their commercials to fit the brand personality that they want to portray to the audience.

Endorsers of Coke

Why would a company use celebrity endorsements? Maybe they want to associate themselves with a certain personality or image.  It could also be to make their company more respected or prove their legitimacy. Over the years Coca-Cola has used many celebrity endorsers to serve, in a way, as the “face” of the company. When an audience sees a celebrity endorsing a product, they begin to associate that celebrity with the product. Coca-Cola has been able to have a wide range of celebrity endorsements over the years. Thus, they have appealed to a wide range of consumers.
            Some of the big name celebrities who have continued the positive brand image that we associate with Coca-Cola are Bill Cosby, Michelle Kwan, and Jennifer Lopez. Michelle Kwan and Jennifer Lopez are great endorsements because they both have avoided scandal and have kept an association with their occupation; Kwan with being an Olympic ice skater, and Lopez being a singer and actress. When we think of Bill Cosby, we think of a friendly family man. This is just the image that Coca-Cola has traditionally tried to associate with their products. In the commercial below, Bill Cosby tells all of the reasons why he likes Coke. He ads humor to the commercial by using words such as “delicioso” as well as his enthusiastic tone.

            Although most of the celebrities that Coca-Cola chooses to endorse their products maintain the brand image that the company is looking for, there are some celebrities who might have hurt the Coca-Cola image due to controversies over their actions. Among these celebrities are Paula Abdul, Kobe Bryant, and Roger Clemens. Paula Abdul was said to have coached and had a sexual relationship with Corey Clark, a contestant on American Idol, a show that she was a judge on. Then there was the famous Kobe Bryant sexual assault scandal. The Lakers basketball star was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year old hotel employee back in 2003. Lastly, everyone remembers when Roger Clemens was accused of using steroids throughout his career as a star baseball pitcher in the major leagues. Although Coca-Cola made a few mistakes in choosing celebrities to endorse their product, it did not seem to affect the company too much. The brand still has a positive image associated with it, and Coke remains universally popular to this day.

            To see a list of celebrities who have endorsed Coca-Cola, CLICK HERE

Advertising in the 1980's

The 1980’s were not any different for Coca-Cola. It still maintained its positive and family friendly brand image. In this first commercial, Coke shows many different images, still maintaining the diversity in demographics that it showed throughout the 1970’s. These different images show musicians, couples, students, athletes, and workers. The fact that Coke illustrates such diverse groups of people demonstrates their attempt at appealing to a wide audience. In this commercial, Coca-Cola also uses humor. For example, when the girl hits what seems to be her boyfriend, the background music is saying, “its just how you feel when you know its for real.”

This next advertisement appeals to a younger crowd. Still, Coke portrays to the audience that it is a "fun" drink. The commercial also implies that the drink will give you confidence when the girl gets out on the dance floor and starts to dance. Again, in this commercial, everyone at the dance seems to be having a fun time. Coca-Cola loves to portray the drink in an enjoyable setting so that people will think of the brand in a positive manner.

Again, in the advertisement below, Coca-Cola is trying to appeal to more people by putting African Americans in their ad. This promotes diversity and shows that they support change, which is the way that America was moving at this time in history. Just like the other advertisements for Coca-Cola, the happy people featured in this advertisement creates a light-hearted feel for the brand, which goes along with the themes that Coke has demonstrated in the past.

Advertising in the 1970's

During the 1970’s there was a lot going on in the world. The Cold War was still going on, and the Vietnam War was beginning to come to a close.  In addition, the feminist and Civil Rights movements were taking place in America. This crucial time period played a role in the way the people at Coca-Cola chose to approach their advertisements. Here are a few of the advertisements from this time period:

            This advertisement is Bill Backer’s famous “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial, showing people of all races on a hilltop singing together. It aims to demonstrate themes of love, peace, and equality for the world. These themes were very common during this time period. It is important that it showed all different races singing in harmony as a symbol that there can and should be peace in the world. In this commercial, all the different kinds of people seem to be having no problems with each other. They are all smiling and singing together, as a demonstration of their unity. Coke is trying to send a message to their consumers that they are proponents of equality and peace.

            The message that this advertisement, which aired in the Philippines, tries to send to the public is that Coke can bring people together. This commercial plays along with the positive brand image we associate with Coca-Cola. Everyone seems to be loving life and having fun together.

            In this Coke commercial, everyone is really upbeat and happy. It also shows people of different races, which is important since the Civil Rights movement was going on at this time. The fact that Coke featured different races, and females for that matter, in their advertisements shows that they do not discriminate. Also, the upbeat tone of the commercial emphasizes that the people seen in the advertisement are happy to be together. Again, continuing the positive association that the public had with the brand.
            It seems as though during the 1970’s Coca-Cola’s goal was to show that they supported unity of all nations and races during this time period. Their advertisements showed people of all different demographics laughing, singing, and having a great time together. I think the brand was trying to demonstrate that they supported world peace and equality for everyone. Coca-Cola has always had a positive brand image associated with their products, and they continued this idea through their advertisements in the 1970’s.

The Early Days of Coca-Cola Advertising

Advertising for Coca-Cola has been present since the beginning of the company. The layouts and strategies used to advertise the brand have changed with time. The first print ads were black and white, handwritten ads by Pemberton himself. Then, Candler began to use a different approach when he took over the company. He put the brand logo on as many thing in his pharmacy as he could, thinking the repetition of the image would get customers thinking about the product and, ultimately, lead to them purchasing the product. In addition, early advertisements for Coca-Cola featured many classy-looking women enjoying a fresh Coke. Then, the universally used image of Santa was created in the 1930’s. All of the ads were print ads, and later the company began to use radio ads and television commercials. Here are a few images showing early advertisements for Coke:


1905 Coca-Cola Oil Cloth Sign

1905- Early advertisements were wordy and less visually appealing.


1920- Advertisements start to make Coca-Cola feel more "fun".
1934 Advertisement featuring Santa Claus


1951- Coca-Cola Neon Sign


1963- You can see slight differences in the newer looking Santa Claus

Players in the World of Advertising for Coca-Cola

Over the years the different players in the advertising world for Coca-Cola have helped shape the brand’s image and create a personality for the company. There have been tons of people who have contributed to the success of the Coca-Cola Company through the ideas they have come up with for its advertising. There are several major advertising agencies that have played a role in the company’s success including the D’Archy Advertising Agency and McCann-Erickson. However, in this section, I will focus on just a few of the major contributors to the brand image of Coca-Cola, as well as some of the players who helped get the name of the brand out to the public.
            The company’s first president, Asa Griggs Candler played a large part in getting the business started in the 1890’s. He began to give out coupons for free tastes of the new product, which brought in many curious customers into his store who had heard about the mysterious fresh product that everyone was buzzing about. In addition to these coupons, he distributed clocks, urns, calendars, and apothecary scales that had the Coca-Cola logo on them throughout his pharmacy. The Coca-Cola brand was everywhere and his aggressive approach on promoting the product created an explosion of popularity for the drink.
Asa Griggs Candler

In 1928, Robert Woodruff, the second president of the Coca-Cola Company had Coca-Cola travel with the Olympic team to the Olympics in Amsterdam that year. This strategy was great advertising because Coca-Cola had just been introduced on an international level.

Robert Woodruff

Soon after, in 1931, Haddon Sundblom created the image of Santa that we associate with the brand to this day. He was a jolly, plump old man with a white beard and a red suit. Few people know that this set the stage for the modern day image of Santa that we see everywhere; it was created by advertisers for Coca-Cola. Before this image of Santa drinking a Coke was released, everyone thought of Coca-Cola as a warm weather refreshment. However, this new illustration changed people’s point of view and it became a cold weather drink as well.

            In 1971 Bill Backer wrote the famous “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” song. This new jingle created a connection with the public and is arguably one of the best commercials of all time. The last advertiser I want to bring to light is Ken Stewart. He designed the famous Coca-Cola polar bear in 1993. This new animation could appeal to a large variety of target audiences and, in addition, created yet another positive brand image for the company.

Coca-Cola's Journey

In order to fully understand why Coca-Cola chose certain advertising campaigns for their product, it is important to know a little bit of history about the company. Different time periods resulted in different approaches to advertising in order to make the advertisements relevant and appropriate for the time in which it was implemented. The fact that Coca-Cola was aware of the events going on in the world around them and the needs of their customers, allowed them to become one of the most successful carbonated drink distributing companies and has enabled their advertisements to aid the success of the business.
An Atlanta pharmacist named John Pemberton invented Coke in 1886. He sold his new invention out of the pharmacy where he worked for five cents a glass. Unfortunately, Pemberton died two years later and Asa Griggs Candler secured the rights to the business for roughly $2,300 and soon became the company’s first president. Candler took an aggressive approach to getting the company name out to the public by putting the logo on his employee’s shirts, clocks, and other items in his store. In 1894 the first Coke was bottled, and by 1895 he built a syrup plant in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago.
Soon after Coca-Cola was released, there were many copycat drinks that tried to imitate the flavorful taste of the new beverage. In order to fend off these new competitors, Coca-Cola advertised their product as authentic and encouraged consumers to “Demand the genuine” and “Accept no substitute”. In addition to these advertising strategies, Coca Cola decided to design a special that would be an identifier for the brand. As a result, it created the contour bottle to make Coke distinguishable.
In 1923, Robert Woodruff became the new president of Coca-Cola. He was a marketing genius and had a vision of expansion for the company. He began to sell the product across the world after the end of World War II. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Coca-Cola decided to come out with new flavors and soon developed Fanta, Sprite, TAB, Fresca, and they eventually acquired The Minute Maid Company, which added juices to the business.
In 1981, Robert C. Goizueta became the new Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company. He called his approach to making the company grow “intelligent risk taking”. He soon introduced Diet Coke, and it became the second most popular low-calorie drink in the world, only because Coke was the most popular. However, in 1985, Goizueta decided to change the Coke formula. The public did not react positively to this and they begged for the return of the old formula. The new CEO complied to the wishes of the consumers and returned the original formula to the market, calling it Coca Cola Clasic.
The 1990’s brought the introduction of the Coca-Cola Polar Bear and the popular “Always Coca-Cola” campaign. In addition, new beverages joined the Coca-Cola family including Powerade and Dasani. Today, the company sells 1.4 billion servings of its products everyday, and it continues to grow.