Coca-Cola’s Take on Staying Relevant

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By Christine Cusatis, Centerlines editor
It has been 127 years since Coca-Cola was introduced in 1886, and, according to Joe Tripodi, the company’s Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, the current challenge is how to stay “familiar and fresh.”

Coke's Joe Tripodi

Tripodi, formerly a chief architect for Mastercard’s notorious “Priceless” campaign, shared six tips on Wednesday to the Marketing and Communications Conference meeting in Coke’s hometown of Atlanta that have helped him steer one of the world’s most iconic brands:

  1. Great stories matter. “Stories are the new currency,” Tripodi said. Create an emotional connection your audience, as illustrated in this Coca-Cola campaign: www.youtube.com/watch?v=91LbDe-OPCg 
  2. Advocacy is your new sales force. The right people can build your business for you, Tripodi said. Work to understand and manage influential groups such suppliers, governments, investors, agencies, detractors and the media. Tripodi cited a Coca-Cola campaign in Australia that engaged the media by branding cans and bottles with popular first names.
  3. Create an environment for conversations. Vending machines in Singapore that supply free Coca-Cola in exchange for hugs exemplify this concept.
  4. Think big, start small, scale fast. “Our biggest competitor is our past,” said Tripodi. “Our biggest challenge, currently, is our future.” Don’t slip into complacency. “Stay very humble and very hungry,” he said.
  5. Disrupt or be disrupted.  Innovative marketing techniques disrupt traditional views and lead to experiential brand opportunities.
  6. The future belongs to the optimist. This is guiding principal for the company, which has gone as far as creating vending machines that serve as virtual portals between people in India and Pakistan.

(Look for this presentation on the Marketing and Communication  Committee webpage once the presentations are posted next week.)