Coke's personalized bottle promotion backfires
By using a limited list of people's names for its Share A Coke campaign, the company has done itself more harm than good.
In 1971, TV viewers worldwide were subjected to a Coca-Cola ad featuring people singing on a hilltop about the company's desire to instill global harmony by having folks buy their neighbors some soda. When that notion failed in tragic fashion at the Munich Olympics a year later, Coca-Cola put a cap on it for 20 years before getting everybody back on the hill for a Super Bowl reunion. Again, the timing wasn't great.
This year, however, Coca-Cola figured it would stop the singing altogether and allow fans in Europe, Israel and other places outside the U.S. to put friends' names on bottles of Coke in the spirit of global togetherness. Of course, that works only if you don't limit the names to some arbitrary list of the most popular monikers.
Coca-Cola's latest attempt at a global hug has been rebuffed, and National Public Radio says the company can thank its short list of accepted names in each participating country for the backlash. Furious fans with overlooked names like Libby, Beverly, Graziella and Rhiannon took to Coca-Cola's Share A Coke Facebook (FB) page to share their outrage.
Those were just the folks who decided to go easy on the maker. The Washington Post reports that an Arab-Israeli person petitioned an Israeli court over the lack of Arab names on Coca-Cola's list, calling it discriminatory. Russian- and Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants have voiced similar complaints.
In Sweden, the issue isn't the names that aren't on the list but a few that almost made the cut. According to Food & Drink Europe, Sweden's Muslim population asked that the popular and varied takes on the name Mohammed not appear on Coca-Cola's bottles. The company obliged.
Although Coca-Cola's global revenue in the first quarter dipped to $11.04 billion from $11.14 billion in the same period last year, sales volume increased worldwide. While that uptick came with only 1% growth in the U.S., sales in Europe, Asia and Africa spiked 15%.
When Coca-Cola's target markets seem to have no problem buying its product, there's no reason to go angering them with some halfhearted marketing ploy. Coca-Cola's name game is uniting the world -- but only in hatred of the company promoting it.
the concept should never have left the planning board room....
we found out by accident from our korean employee, yong bong song. we all called him "bongo". months later we found out from another korean interviewing that "bongo is a bad word". we asked bongo about it and he said it did mean something bad in korean. But he was proud that we gave him a nickname and knew we didn't know what it meant. But he felt accepted that us americans even GAVE him a nickname.
so how many of these various names mean something COMPLETELY different in another language?
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