Coke, Intel get creative

06 December 2011

NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, Intel and Tumblr are among the brand owners that have effectively combined creativity with disruptive approaches to business, a study has argued.

In a new report, Fast Company, the business and technology title, identified what it viewed as leading examples of companies which have found innovative solutions to different problems.

Among this group was Coca-Cola, the soft drinks firm, which faces the need to combine considerable brand equity built up by its long-standing values with the need to attract young consumers.

"Spencerian script. Red, white, dynamic colors. Those are things that have not changed and will not change," said Wendy Clark, senior vice president, marketing at Coca-Cola.

"So how do my team and I make a brand that's looked the same for 100-plus years seem relevant to the new generations of global teens? By building authentic, meaningful campaigns around their passion points."

Clark cited a campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, using a global message but local ideas, as showing this concept in action. (To see more on Coca-Cola's strategy in this area, click here.)

Some shoppers have also recently complained about a redesigned Coke can linked to an effort to save polar bears, showing the balance is a fine one.

On the other hand, Intel, the technology group, was praised for its Classmate PC, which showed "creativity can survive compromise". Based on research in Indian schools, the initial thought was to offer a bespoke tablet PC, but the end product ended up being very different.

"Our boss said it needed to have a keyboard. We said that would defeat the purpose; scripts in India don't use keyboards very easily. He said it needed to look like the other things we make. So we ... said, 'Well, if it's not going to sell in India, let's sell it to the rest of the world.' And we did," said Tony Salvador, an ethnographic researcher at Intel.

Dyson, based in the UK, was praised for having a "freethinking" approach, shown by its range of innovative bagless vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and pioneering heaters and hand-dryers.

"I love this idea of wrong thinking – of encouraging people who have ideas to go see if they work and not dismissing them just because they sound like the wrong solution," said James Dyson, its CEO.

Tumblr, the blogging service, received plaudits for engaging category influencers, by initially targeting people using "tumblelogs", or pages drawing together a diverse range of interesting content, usually in a highly unstructured way."

"When we released our platform, we took it straight to the tumblelogging community," said David Karp, CEO of Tumblr. "They were thrilled. And because they really understood what Tumblr was about, they set a great example for new users. That helped us get a lot of early traction."

Data sourced from Fast Company; additional content by Warc staff