You have to be brave to remove the logo from your products on the supermarket shelf, but if there is a brand big enough to get away with it, it’s Coca-Cola. Coke’s ‘share a bottle’ campaign sees its iconic logo replaced with 150 popular first names on products available over the summer.
The campaign mechanic was originally deployed by Coke in Australia in 2011 and is now being given the full-scale international treatment. It represents, creatively at least, an eye-catching departure from the uninspiring ad campaigns run by the brand in recent years, which were based on a formula of music and sports sponsorships. It is also, perhaps, an attempt to counter the ‘wallpaper effect’ of blandness and boredom that can often run alongside a brand.
Another brand that has attempted this trick is Heinz, which back in 2009 launched its myheinz.com site in the US, where you could order bottles of ketchup printed with personalised labels. They extended the idea to their soups in 2011, deploying the campaign over Facebook.
“A campaign that changes social interaction is powerful stuff”
However, moving the idea of ‘mass personalisation’ on from one-off products available online to millions of units available in retail stores is a big step. Why go through the costly and time-consuming logistical nightmare that inevitably comes from even something as seemingly simple as printing 150 different product labels?
If implemented correctly, this is a campaign that creates both a product and content that is instantly shareable, sparks conversation and builds an emotional connection. It’s even been reported that café and bar owners in Brazil have been getting to know the names of their customers, many for the first time, and setting aside the appropriate personalised Coke can for their next visit. A marketing campaign that changes social interaction is powerful stuff.
That said, this is an idea that ultimately needs to drive sales over both the short and longer term. As I gaze across the shopping aisle searching for that Coke bottle emblazoned with ‘Daljit’, will I perhaps be a little disappointed if I discover there isn’t one? Will those of a more sensitive disposition actually take offence? Apparently, those with more uncommon names will be given the opportunity to create their own virtual bottle or can online.
Cynics may claim that, like canned soup, this is an idea that shouldn’t be reheated, but the appeal of seeing your name plastered over a recognisable product hasn’t gotten old - yet. The truth remains that there are few brand names that we find more engaging then our own.
Daljit Bhurji is MD of integrated communications consultancy Diffusion