Marketing the Real Thing
Recently, Coke left behind its 'Open Happiness' campaign, which it now cites as a bit lofty and preachy. It sees this shift to "Taste the Feeling" as humbling the brand, taking it back to the simplicity of its product truth. The way the executives explain it, it’s now focusing on selling 'cokes' not 'Coke.'
Initially, this news felt like the company was retreating and we weren’t sure why exactly. For the past 7 years, the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign has set the bar for excellent branding. It’s been inspiring and groundbreaking, showing the incredible possibilities and power a brand can have. Why diminish that? And considering the fire the soft drink industry is under – is this really the right time to make it about the product?
But then we realized the strategic genius. Coke is knocking itself down to size before someone else does, evolving before it is forced too, and taking the opportunity to get real about what they sell. Coke can’t actually open happiness, but it can make this moment a little more refreshing.
And this is just what the next generation of consumers is looking for. Gen Z’s are quickly coming of age and, as a group, they are marketing cynics valuing honesty and practicality in brands. By getting real with their marketing, Coke will surely resonate with this emerging demographic.
So if you think about it, it is a brilliant move. ‘Open Happiness’ couldn’t last forever, and before it got completely exhausted, before we all started rolling our eyes at the brand for being overly worthy, Coke changes and gives us what we want - a realistic and honest picture of what they’re selling, that still offers an emotional connection. And before we even know it, we’re pulled into a new chapter of the brand.