Coke takes new approach on the web

13 November 2012

NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, is seeking to adopt a similar approach to a media owner as it endeavours to more effectively communicate with consumers online.

The company has just relaunched its official website, which now carries the title "Coca-Cola Journey", borrowing the name of an in-house magazine, called Journey, published between 1987 and 1997.

Ashley Brown, director for digital communications and social media at Coca-Cola, told the New York Times such a strategy reflected a shift in both the firm's strategy and the broader marketplace.

"The hot thing is to talk about being publishers. We have this belief in great, real content and creating content that can be spread through any medium as part of our 'liquid and linked' strategy," he said.

As such, Coca-Cola's online hub will host articles and videos covering issues like entertainment, sport, health and the environment, alongside providing blogs and columns from staff and guest contributors.
"My team, the digital communications and social media team, has been re-formed in the last year to look more like an editorial team at a long-lead magazine ... with a production schedule and an editorial calendar," said Brown. "It's very much like at a newspaper or a magazine."

Four full-time staff will work on this site, he added, alongside 40 freelance writers and photographers and "people throughout the Coke system, in marketing and public relations."

Brown revealed some material will present a "point of view", but pieces with differing opinions to Coca-Cola's will also be published, with an additional note saying the company has a "different perspective".

Coca-Cola may also choose to write response pieces presenting its own opinions in such cases, indicative of an attempt to adopt the sort of open-minded and interactive approach used on social media.

"We want to be a credible source," said Brown. "We have a belief here that not shying away from tough decisions is a good thing and gives us credibility."

Coca-Cola's website receives 1.2m visitors a month, and was last redesigned in 2005. Brown called this a "lifetime in technology", adding: "We wondered, 'Was it really working as hard for us as it could?'"

The current scheme is a "multimillion-dollar effort over multiyears", he added. "I'm sure we're going to make mistakes, and readers are going to tell us."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff