Bold Packaging Move for An Iconic Brand … But Is It the Right One?
Last week, Coca-Cola unveiled a new global packaging in a strategy to unite all trademark Coke products as part of its "one brand" approach. The packaging — which will include the bottles and cans of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke/Coca-Cola Light, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life — will now all feature the Coca-Cola red disc, which was first introduced in Coca-Cola advertising in the 1930s.
Packaging is Coca-Cola's most valuable media asset because consumers physically touch the product, according to James Sommerville, VP of global design in a release from The Coca-Cola company. This factor led to this strategy, intended to both unify the beloved variations while making it easier for consumers to differentiate their favorite version from the rest on the shelf.
Not only is the red disc popping up on packaging, in January 2016, Coca-Cola launched a series of television commercials as part of a "Taste the Feeling" campaign. The commercials integrate the various types of Coke products into one television spot, but at the end of each commercial, the red disc is used to unite all the products under one Coca-Cola brand. This new branding joins other Coca-Cola marketing strategies of late, including the "Share a Coke and a Song" program and the Diet Coke "IT'S MINE" campaign, designed to celebrate and unify consumers with unique packaging.
Advertising Age reported that it had spoken to Marcos de Quinto, CMO at Coca-Cola. He said that although people love the Coca-Cola brand, over the years, the variations of Coke under the brand had taken on separate identities. The idea behind the campaign is to break down the barriers of those sub-brands.
"Implicitly we were saying that Coca-Cola is no longer for everybody," de Quinto said to Ad Age, "we were damaging the pure core of what the Coca Cola brand is — that it's a brand for everybody."
According to Ad Age, Coca-Cola executives predicted that the new packaging will engage people visually once it's on the shelf. It will also make it clear that the different variants of the beverage are united under one brand.
However, the new packaging may not be for everybody. Ad Age also reports the new brand strategy may prove to be confusing to some consumers. Investors in particular are giving the global packaging effort mixed reviews. Bernstein's poll gathered opinions from 65 investors across the globe and found that while some thought the new design will link the products to the distinct brand, close to 20% of respondents felt that the rebranding might confuse consumers. One investor in the article was quoted as saying, "those cans are terrible and going to confuse the heck out of people … The red creates a negative reaction for me as a diet drinker."
Quartz also deemed this packaging move a blunder, comparing it to the epic disaster of New Coke in the 1980s, which effectively proved to Coca-Cola the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Quartz makes a very concise point that the same color label will be anything but helpful to the "busy, inattentive consumer."
To negate any confusion, Coca-Cola is counting on the secondary colors on the packaging to help consumers differentiate the versions. However, just from looking at comments on Coca-Cola's website, it seems some consumers are already concerned about potential mixups.
Whatever your feeling about the new bottles and cans may be, it is a bold move for a brand that relies on its globally identifiable packaging. At a time when soda sales are declining due to mounting health concerns, it will be interesting to see how this packaging change will affect sales.
Do you think the new packaging will be a hit or miss? Let us know in the comments below.
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