Coca-Cola looks to big ideas

30 July 2009

ATLANTA: Brands need to focus on "telling a good story" if they are to successfully connect with consumers across a range of different touchpoints, meaning their agencies must deliver powerful ideas, says Ivan Wicksteed, global creative director of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola has been taking an increasingly global approach to its research and overall strategy, having overcome a period of "creative bankruptcy" at the start of the decade.

While speaking at the recent Advertising and Marketing Summit in Sydney, Wicksteed argued the "tools of the trade" used by advertisers and agencies have effectively been transformed.

"There are major changes in the way stories are being told. The internet and video games are the two biggest things that have happened in the last 20 years, and it has fundamentally changed the way stories are told. And that is really important to get your head around as a marketer," he said.

Coca-Cola's current "big idea" is based on the notion of the "Happiness Factory," a communications platform that was developed in 2006, and has since spanned TV, radio, outdoor, mobile, the web, and promotions via Microsoft's Xbox games console.

Another innovative tactic adopted by the soft drinks giant has been to release a song based around the idea of "Open Happiness", which only carries limited branding, and has proved to be highly successful in a number of countries, including China.

Overall, according to Wicksteed, the "Happiness Factory" is one example of valuable intellectual property that has been delivered by Coca-Cola's creative partners, something he said "agencies need to do more of."

Successfully doing so will mean they are able not only to help brands engage with their customers, but also to forge a stronger, more long-lasting relationship with the owner of the asset concerned.

"Create something that you can reap financial reward from. If you can create IP and enter into a relationship with your clients, that is the ideal place to be. You want to create properties for people who are willing to pay for it," Wicksteed said.

With regard to media strategy, Coke's creative chief similarly stated that the idea of “neutrality” could only be based around strong creative work.

"It annoys me a little bit when agencies talk about media neutrality. Media neutrality comes with telling a good story,” he said.

“If you have got a good story you can tell it in lots of different mediums. Generate great stories and media neutrality will come with it."

Data sourced from B&T; additional content by WARC staff