For brands, the idea of agility is often focused on how they respond to new circumstances, such as that presented by Covid-19, but it does not necessarily mean an immediate change in what they are doing, according to Coca-Cola’s ASEAN director of integrated content and creative.

Speaking at the recent All That Matters conference, Sadaf Zarrar acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, but added that, rather than drastic changes, her team has favoured going down the optimisation route.

“Coca-Cola's marketing journey in the last six months has not been about stopping the shop, closing the shop, or temporarily pausing the work, but about making the work more meaningful,” she said.

The advertising approach, in effect, did not really alter. “We just fast-forwarded it to where we were hoping that we would [end] up anyway,” Zarrar explained.

“This [the pandemic] was just the right catalyst that required us to start thinking and forced us to develop things in that way.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: Nothing’s changed but everything’s changed: Marketing Coca-Cola during COVID-19 without fizzing out.)

The typical Coca-Cola campaign is all about connections, as people hang out and enjoy their shared time together. But with the pandemic, the outside world essentially shut down.

The brand still had a relevant role to play, however, even if the world did not look quite the same. “School was still happening with home schooling; people were still meeting, though it was more digital,” Zarrar noted. “It was important that we immediately adapted to that reality. That’s where agility comes in.”

Coca-Cola, she observed, is not a brand that exists outside of culture. “It’s very embedded in the cultural reality of the young people at that point in time.”

And some of Coca-Cola’s first global campaigns that emerged from the COVID-19 crisis did this by heralding the human spirit. The To the Human Race campaign, for instance, refreshed decade-old work from 2010 to celebrate real front-liners.

“The situation has changed, but the feeling hasn’t changed,” said Zarrar. “The campaign we rolled out in ASEAN immediately after that celebrated all that was happening at home.”

Sourced from WARC