USA: Comment - Coca-Cola: looking for a little magic
The Coca-Cola Company has unveiled a $150m marketing campaign linked to the new Harry Potter movie. Coca-Cola's new campaign is certain to have an enormous impact: it would seem like Harry has the Midas touch when it comes to marketing. Nonetheless, such promotions will not be the major focus for Coca-Cola's marketing in future. In the long term, the company looks set to move towards more experience-related campaigns.
The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) has been looking for something extra, something different, to reinvigorate the brand after three relatively poor years of performance. While the firm has been trying to demonstrate its adaptability beyond carbonated soft drinks, the ending of its joint venture with Procter & Gamble has highlighted that not all its initiatives have come off. The $150 million Harry Potter deal would appear gilt-edged though. The biggest soft drinks company in the world tied up with the biggest phenomenon to hit children's (and arguably adult) books since, well, since ever, would seem a sure winner.
This campaign is certain to make quite a splash, but whether the efforts will lift sales to cover the cost of acquiring the license and marketing costs is another question. Not all companies got the benefits they were hoping for out of backing Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. Indeed, publisher Dorling Kindersley was almost driven into bankruptcy after overestimating demand for tie-in books.
Although the Harry Potter campaign will undoubtedly grab the attention, there are more fundamental changes afoot with TCCC's marketing. Following a recent change in marketing personnel, the focus is now on aligning brand messages with consumers' experiences.
Picture this - you're a teenager, post-gig and on the ride home, your friends are asleep - it was the best night of your life and you reflect on it whilst drinking a Coca-Cola. Such 'experiential' marketing is powerful, as it associates the brand more closely with the consumers' views, lifestyles and emotions.
There will always be a role for marketing to kids, and big blockbuster movies such as Harry Potter will remain powerful tools in consumer packaged goods marketers' armories. Yet this tactic only represents one strand of the marketing mix. Real long-term impact is more likely to come from tactics such as experiential marketing that help to make a brand a lifestyle choice, not just a reaction purchase to having seen the latest advert.
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