|Was Coca-Cola Color Blind?
By: David Soyka
I rarely drink soda. Moreover, I generally don’t like drinks from cans, even though beer is supposedly better stored in cans. So I’m a totally unbiased observer about the latest Coca-Cola imbroglio concerning its white holiday cans and subsequent decision to revert to traditional red in response to consumer outcry.
Since the point of the holiday can was to promote a joint partnership with the World Wildlife Fund spotlighting conservation efforts for the arctic polar bear, I get the creative intent. However, while it’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback, I do have to wonder why it may not have occurred to anyone that going white might create some consumer confusion between the usually red-packaged regular Coke and the silver-canned diet Coke. When I do drink soda, I want real soda, not something with an artificially sweetened aftertaste, and I can certainly understand how easy it might be for hurried shoppers to inadvertently pick up the wrong product. The whole point of brand differentiation is to, well, make the brands look different. On the other hand, there are these things called words, and the words “Coca Cola” are sufficiently different from “Diet Coke” in a dissimilar typeface.
While it’s not clear how many consumers actually objected to the color change, and perhaps the media attention magnified this out of proportion, Coca-Cola spun this by saying it was always the company's intent to switch back to red cans during this particular campaign, which is slated to end in March 2012.
The question now becomes whether the presumably scarcer white cans will rise in demand as true collector items, which, of course, is the whole point of collector editions. In an era in which every mundane CD or DVD release is a touted as a collector’s edition despite the absence of a regular edition or any production expiration date, Coca-Cola may have executed a brilliant marketing strategy, however inadvertently.
David Soyka is freelance copywriter who has conceptualized and developed a range of strategic advertising, marketing, training, and technical communications for advertising agencies and Fortune 1000 companies in print, web, and broadcast formats. A former newspaper reporter and English teacher, he is a published author of ficiton and non-fiction, and a DJ at WTJU-FM. Find him online here.
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