29 Apr 2015

Coca-Cola embraces fist bump for friendship campaign

Coca-Cola’s iconic white wavy ribbon logo has been replaced by the universal sign of friendship: the 'fist bump'.

The move, which will see the 'fist bump' logo appear on packaging, merchandise and advertising, is part of a major marketing push by the brand in Latin America.  

The campaign called #TrueFriendship or #VerdaderoAmigo that aims to highlight the power and importance of teenage friendships through a series of social and branded content.

The campaign incorporates a wide range of elements in a bid to connect with a savvy teenage audience. It includes a series of online films, short documentaries with MTV, Vines and an interactive video starring world soccer stars including Real Madrid's Javier Hernández.

There’s also a range of merchandising including t-shirts, mobile phone cases, ear bud splitters to share music and devices to share battery power between phones, as well as TV and print advertising and social activations.

The campaign will feature One Direction's song "Clouds", which serves as the soundtrack to the overall campaign and the boy band will also feature in advertising and Vine videos.

The campaign calls on teenagers to show "true friendship" and the ads and films depict incidents where teenagers step up for their friends in difficult moments.

Coca-Cola has launched two of the web films, the first, 'El Rumor', examines gossip and rumours in the technology age, while the second 'Algo Inesperado', follows a young girl who makes an unexpected friend. 

While the films appear innocent, Coca-Cola is not afraid to touch on some weighty issues for teenagers, such as teen pregnancy, cyber bullying, rumours, gossip and farting in class (Apparently a major issue for teenage girls). The films employ humour and sensitivity while maintaining a frank, honest tone.

It’s a real change to see films made for teenagers that have the potential to actually appeal to the audience. Unlike the films usually created for teens, Coca-Cola have managed to employ restraint and this might just make these films palatable to teenagers.

P.J. Pereira, chief creative officer of Pereira & O'Dell, the agency behind the campaign told AdWeek, "Coca-Cola is shedding light on what we're referring to as 'crossroad moments.' These are the times when friends can choose to step up for a friend in need selflessly. We hope these scenarios inspire conversation among teens and put a spotlight on how we can choose not to be cruel to another human being, especially with words."

The campaign is driven by the insight that so much of teenagers lives are experienced through technology, which brings both positives and negatives for teens with issues of cruelty and bullying, isolation and loneliness. Coca-Cola’s strategy is to tap into these feeling and showcase how kindness and friendship can help teens to find happiness through a sense of identity and belonging.

José Luis Basauri, Brand Director for Coca-Cola Mexico, said, “Since we identified the moments Teens use to connect emotionally, this campaign is the digital tool we need to reach them, and we want to use it to celebrate them and show them that happiness is also a choice. When we chose unity, teamwork and being kind to others, Teens can produce significant positive changes.”  

It’s no surprise then that the campaign relies heavily on social activations, digital content and merchandise - this is a brand that really understands its audience. 

The campaign builds on Coca-Cola's global Happiness platform, which has often turned to friendships to help demonstrate the brand mission. While seeking to enlist teens and engage them with the brand. 

The strategy is to engage a savvy teen audience who rate their friends and the authenticity of their friendships above all else. Coke is looking to align their brand with these trustworthy values in a bid to connect with the audience.

This is a major play by Coca-Cola and the scope of the campaign reflects how high the stakes are. Latin America is a big and lucrative market for the brand and given the flat soda market and the challenging economic issues for many of the countries there, the continent is a major area of focus for the brand. 

Coca-Cola is banking on the first bump to provide it some goodwill in the market but winning over teen audiences is always a challenge, no matter how many One Direction songs you have. Coke has created some great ideas here, but the proof will be in the pudding as to whether it connects with teens. 



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