The last few years Coca-Cola has utilized “Happiness” as a platform for its marketing communications. Here at T4Ps, we have featured a few of these efforts.
Coca-Cola faced a few challenges implementing this campaign in Thailand in late 2011. First, Thailand was not one of Coca-Cola’s better markets. The company trailed Pepsi in market share by 40-24%. In the previous five years, newcomer Big Cola had grabbed 10%. Coca-Cola lacked relevance in the market. A second challenge (later turned into opportunity) was a natural disaster. Thailand had recently suffered terrible flooding that paralyzed the country’s largest city (Bangkok). Coca-Cola had manufacturing problems and ran out of stock. In this situation, a campaign based on “Happiness” might have seemed a bit insensitive.
But Thailand’s happy-go-lucky people have given the country the the reputation as the “Land of Smiles.” I have been there and can validate the Thai are a wonderful people. Coca-Cola built on that legacy and tailored its “Happiness” campaign to the Thai situation, creating the “Million Reasons to Believe in Thailand” message.
While it is nice to know the campaign won the Festival of Media Asia Awards 2013 Campaign of the Year — I find it is even better to share some real data. In spite of a recession, Coke sales reached an all-time record of 29 million cases in March 2012. Coke raised its market share, taking much of that from arch rival Pepsi as it cut Pepsi’s lead in the market to two points (32-30%) down from its rivals 16 point lead.
This can be a great story to tell to demonstrate many different elements of marketing strategy planning. For example, Coke turned threat into opportunity. The case fits nicely with our marketing strategy process planning model, and would allow an instructor to walk through the model. The case demonstrates adaptation for an international market. I suggest giving the case a bit of the background provided here and then showing the video.