CHICAGO: Coca-Cola's highly successful "Share a Coke" campaign shows the power of tapping human insight rather than focusing on functional concerns, according to a leading executive from the company.

Evan Holod, brand director at the Coca-Cola Company, discussed this subject at the Brand Activation Association's (BAA) 2015 Brand Activation Annual Showcase (BAASH) assembly in Chicago.

And he asserted that "Share a Coke" – which replaces the brand's name on its packaging with popular first names from each country where it is introduced – drew on a core truth about shoppers, not beverages.

"We started with a very simple insight: 'The most special moments in life are the moments that we share with others'," he said. (For more, including the role played by discovery, invitation and storytelling in this campaign, read Warc's exclusive report: Marketing drives reversal of Coke sales decline.)

"Compared with 'People like orange-flavoured beverages' or 'People prefer this amount of sweetness', it was a human insight."

Given the primary emphasis was placed upon sharing the Coke experience, so the central premise "was not about names", even though that was the most visible element of this effort.

"Names are on the packages. Names were the tactic. Names were the way that we drove the connection. But the connection itself is the idea. The story that we told through the campaign is all about sharing," said Holod.

"You really won't ever see us say, 'Find your name'; it's always, 'Share a Coke.'"

As Coca-Cola's packaging constitutes an invaluable piece of marketing real estate, so the tactical side of this program helped encourage sharing in a manner that exerted an immediate impact on consumers in stores.

"We knew we had to keep it simple," said Holod. "The idea had to be something that could be communicated in a nanosecond: the moment that you walked by a cooler, it had to communicate."

And in combination, the messaging and tactical activation were perfectly calibrated for the social-media age.

"The idea itself lends itself to social media in a way like probably no campaign in our history," said Holod. "We really used social media to fuel the conversation."

Data sourced from Warc