LOS ANGELES: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks group, believes that using marketing to make a "significant, positive difference in the world" is a key contributor to its long-term brand strength.

Ivan Pollard, the company's Corporate SVP/Strategic Marketing, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference.

And he cited efforts from the iconic "Hilltop" television ad from 1971, which tapped into anti-war sentiment, to more recent initiatives supporting marriage equality and tackling bullying as evidence of its continuing ethos.

"All brands become powerful as a result of all the actions they have taken in the past or the things they have done in the past. And they become relevant in the modern age by what they do next," Pollard said. (Get more details in Warc's free report: The legacy of Coke's purpose-driven marketing.)

"We lift people up. We thrill them. We inspire them. And we leave them refreshed. All through our history, we've believed that we must seize the opportunity to use our voice to make a significant, positive difference in the world."

The company's enduring values include a preference for "positivity", "optimism", "being close" and "being social" – all expressed by "beautiful stories" that are "unpretentious, and simple, and authentic", according to Pollard.

"We believe that doing good work that promotes more goodness in the world is just simply doing good business," he told the ANA conference.

"We've had a history of using advertising not merely as a mirror that reflects the darker side of how the world is today, but as a window through which you can see a better picture for tomorrow that we would like this country to be."

And the house of beverage brands also makes consistent efforts to understand the connection between these cause-orientated programs and market performance.

"We measure how people feel about our brand … and how people are feeling about the way that the company is conducting its business in the world," Pollard said.

"Those metrics will tell you if you're getting your social responsibility wrong. It's become a requirement that you demonstrate leadership in the social agenda. If you don't, people will abandon you."

Data sourced from Warc