Venkatesh Kini, president – India and South West Asia, Coca-Cola, spoke at the IAA Retrospect & Prospects events in Mumbai on 24 April. He provided Coca-Cola’s perspective on the ever-evolving communication system between brand and consumers.
He kept the focus on consumers, noting that any consumer these days equipped with a smartphone is fully capable of doing what an advertising, media, or marketing professional could do.
A brand such as Coca-Cola, he noted, has had the scope to note the evolution of a consumer from being a passive receiver of a message to being a node in the communication network.
Kini remarked, “The way that people are consuming media and the way in which we connect with consumers, has changed. In the old days we used to take a telescope and try to find who the target audience is. That paradigm has now changed and it is changing because your target audience is no longer just a point or a dot that you aim that. Your target audience is a node in a much wider network. Your consumer is also your advertiser. Any consumer that consumes your brand, your ad and decides to share it is a node in the network.”
About being share worthy, Kini spoke about Coca-Cola’s 'Where will happiness strike next: OFW Project’, which was about reuniting Philippine residents, who could not afford a flight back home, with their families.
‘Where will happiness strike next: OFW Project’ Phillipines
He spoke about how a marketing activity is received by today’s consumer. He said, “We are stuck on the 5 P’s of marketing but in today’s day and age we’re changing the experience of marketing, where consumers experience your product or service or brand as an immersive experience.”
Kini cited the ‘Sprite Till I Die’ campaign as an example of this. It was a digital (only) campaign where students were invited to come up with their ‘Sprite Quotient’.
“Consumers have taken control over dialogue”, he noted.
Sprite Till I Die
Citing the case of Coke Studio, Kini noted the importance of discovering alternate methods of engaging the consumer beyond the obvious, which not only propagates the brand message but also keeps the conversation going.
To be ‘constructively discontent’ was Kini’s next tip as he spoke about the brand’s iconic Hilltop commercial. Almost 40 years after that ad was released, Google and Coca-Cola as part of ‘Project Re: Brief' re-envisioned the message of ‘Buy the world a Coke’ with current technology which allowed people to send a Coke to different parts of the world along with a message and to be able to access the recipient’s message.
Hilltop commercial original
Next, the Coca-Cola head described how the brand viewed the different forms of media, namely, owned, earned, shared, and paid media. He spoke about being collaborative in terms of the assets that a company can utilise together to put out the most effective communication strategy. For Coca-Cola, the ad spends are in the ratio of 70:20:10, where 70 per cent of the ad spend is demarcated for measured media, while 20 per cent of the spends is on new media, such as social media. Ten per cent of the spends is for disruptive initiatives.
“Start with the owned media; our packaging, trucks are all part of owned assets. Earned assets are the conversations that are sparked around the brand. We have customers, suppliers, partners we can leverage and there’s huge value to it. When you’ve exhausted all these options, you might want to spend on paid media,” he noted.
He enlisted that being a brand that is consistent, has a clear purpose and appeals to a higher purpose are just as important.
Thums Up, he stated, was a brand that has maintained the same idea and message for over twenty years, demonstrating consistency.
Coca-Cola – NDTV’s ‘Support My School’ campaign that recently celebrated having reached out to 500 schools has been an initiative that is not only ‘pure CSR’ but also has given a brand a purpose, explained Kini.
But going beyond, there still is a need to ‘appeal to a higher purpose’, Kini stated. Giving a visually impaired team of young footballers from Brazil a chance to touch the official FIFA World Cup team, he stated, helped the brand serve a higher purpose.