“Share a Coke” or ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

share a cokeHave you ever played that game when you give someone two choices like chocolate or vanilla, Burger King or McDonalds, Coke or Pepsi, and they have to choose their favorite of the two? In the 80s I remember taking the Pepsi Challenge and hands down choosing Coke. We all have food preferences or brand allegiances and most of us stay loyal to the brands that treat us well. Something quite drastic would have to happen to jump from vanilla to chocolate or vice versa.

In recent days, it has become quite clear how powerful the world of social media has become. This summer, Coke launched its Share-a-Coke Campaign in North America to get customers excited about a personalized beverage that they could take a photo of and share through social media. Upon arriving home from my summer vacation, my husband and I were presented with personalized Coke bottles with our names prominently featured from a co-worker.

Emblazoning names on different items used to be a trend reserved for touristy tchotchkes and children’s backpacks. In one mere summer, Coca-Cola has transformed the art of personalization into a clever social media strategy.

Share a Coke

“Share a Coke” launched in June with the goal of targeting teens and Millennials by replacing the iconic Coke logo on 20-ounce bottles with names and nicknames. The campaign invites Coke drinkers to find their names, as well as the names of their family members and friends. Plus, they can use the #shareacoke hashtag on social media for a chance to be featured in ads and download the app to send coupons to friends.

Throughout the past two months, young adults in particular have flocked to their favorite social media channels, unable to resist the temptation of sharing their personalized Coke bottles with the (online) world.

The plan relies on the fact that young consumers love feeling special and sharing that feeling with friends. Coca-Cola did its homework, too. The company identified 250 of the most popular names in the country among 13- to 24-year-olds, covering about 60% of Americans in that age range.

You might not be able to hire a consumer research company for your own social media efforts, but you should consider what made Coke’s efforts work:

  1. They knew their demographic. Coke did their homework to figure out who they should be targeting (in this case, a group that will only grow in buying power) and then created a differentiated product that would appeal to those people. Before starting a campaign, get well-acquainted with your audience.

  2. They made people feel unique. By personalizing bottles, Coke tapped into something that people love even more than Coke — themselves. Find a way to make your customers feel like they’re receiving a personal experience, and they’ll reward you for it.

  3. They let their customers do their advertising. Just incentivizing the #shareacoke hashtag with the possibility of being featured in an ad meant lots of social media play. Let users generate your content for you with contests and giveaways.

No one can question how cool this idea is. Yet, when looking at the financials, Coke is not faring as well as its key competitor Pepsi. It may possibly be that the demand has not justified the cost of personalization/customization just yet.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

One of the most recent social media campaign phenomenons that has soaked the country over the past month is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The concept is brilliant. The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness.  People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

Pete Frates, along with his family, helped to make the “Ice Bucket Challenge” go viral on the social sites Facebook and Twitter.  Frates, 29, has lived with ALS since 2012, and he has worked with The ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter. In just three weeks, this viral sensation, which has used the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge, has attracted millions of followers, 637,527 new donors and raised an amazing amount of cash…$31.5 million in donations compared to $1.9 million for the same period last year to be exact!

Social media allows any brand or cause to capture attention with a little ingenuity. So if I have to choose between a personalized Coke bottle or being publicly challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over my head, both sound tempting on a 90+ degree day, but I’d have to choose the ALS Challenge because at the end of the day I know it benefits more than just me! What’s your choice?

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