Creating Special Moments for Controlling and Preventing Obesity

Social marketers should note the Coca-Cola company announcement of its new ‘One Brand’ global marketing strategy yesterday in Paris. It’s something worth taking a careful look at, especially if your work encompasses trying to change eating patterns, reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and/or tackle the wicked problem of obesity.

Coke - taste the feeling

There are several points in their strategy that are useful to consider when developing social marketing and public health campaigns.

First: ‘Drinking a Coca-Cola, any Coca-Cola, makes the moment special.’ The intent here is not to worry so much about selling a specific brand (regular, diet, caffeinated or not). As long as it’s a Coke, it’s the right choice. Now think about how you talk about alternatives to unhealthy eating patterns, SSBs and other behaviors related to obesity prevention and control (such as physical activity). Does your program focus on just one behavior or several? Are they somehow connected with each other – or could be? Do any of those behaviors ‘make a moment special?’ If not, how do you expect to compete (short of trying to ban all Coca-Cola advertising)?

The ‘One Brand’ strategy is articulated as:

  • Extends the global equity and iconic appeal of original Coca-Cola across the Trademark, uniting the Coca-Cola family under the world’s number one beverage brand.
  • Comes to life in a global campaign – “Taste the Feeling” – that uses universal storytelling and everyday moments to connect with consumers around the world.
  • Features the product at the heart of the creative, celebrating the experience and simple pleasure of drinking a Coca-Cola, any Coca-Cola.
  • Underscores the Company’s commitment to choice, allowing consumers to choose whichever Coca-Cola suits their taste, lifestyle, and diet.

With obesity and SSBs becoming a global concern, are there ways of creating global equity and iconic appeal either with an existing brand (for argument’s sake, such as the UN or WHO)? Thinking more locally, are there cities, states or countries that have invested in a ‘brand’ that could lead social marketing efforts in this space? If you don’t think you have a brand, maybe you need to look around and find one that already exists in the minds of your priority group.

How can we use story-telling, not facts and certainly not fear appeals, to position options in the context of people’s everyday moments? Again, not the facts, and not the typical exhortations to ‘don’t eat or drink that!’ How do healthier choices connect with people around the world (what are some of the universal situations and experiences you could use to connect with people and not just communicate to target audiences)?

What are the 3-4 specific behaviors you could focus on that would help people celebrate their experiences and the simple pleasures of trying something different?

And finally, note that there is a commitment to choice (yes, as long as it’s a Coke) – but the idea of choice is one that resonates with most consumers and is sadly one that too many public health people are abandoning.

But remember, it’s not a ‘healthy choice’ that most people are looking for (the ones that want to make those choices don’t need our programs). 

Many times I have talked about Coke’s strategy of ‘being within an arm’s reach of desire’ and how social marketers (and public health professionals) need to focus on distribution of, and access to, opportunities to engage in healthy behaviors.

… what if instead of focusing so much of our efforts on changing the rules (policies), we thought harder and more deeply about how other behaviors could make the moment even more special for people. Here’s how Coke is doing it.

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