Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coca-Cola and Community: It’s all about the Community

There’s no doubt Coca-Cola has the strongest brand recognition on the planet. But what really surprised me during the recent Ragan social media conference I attended at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, was how they populate their brand presence EVERYWHERE!

The opening keynote by Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president of global public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola, didn’t just take us through their latest and greatest social media campaign. He DID take us through the fundamentals which have been at the heart of his tenure at Coca-Cola: the importance of Human Relations. Tuggle opened with a compelling statement: that “taking people for granted” was a deadly sin and relationships – regardless of all the new mediums we are using to cultivate them – are the “connective tissue” for all of us.

He then offered four fundamental truths that guide Coca-Cola through its journey. They are so simple and worth sharing for all public relations practitioners.

Truth #1: We do not own our brands; our consumers own our brands. This is very simple and obvious in today’s consumer-driven economy.

Truth #2: Fish where the fish are. In determining the places where Coca-Cola needed a voice, they asked themselves the question: “how can we be part of a broader network?”

Truth #3: Let it go. Do something completely unexpected to create an emotional bond. Tuggle cited this as the most difficult to accomplish because it involves ceding control and letting fans take over.

Truth #4: Every day is election day. Every day you need to earn the vote of your customers, employees and other stakeholders.

His final thought: It’s not about the technology, it’s about finding common ground for meaningful connections. It’s about doing the right thing.

One of the examples which shows how Coca-Cola is leveraging community and geography is the FIFA World Cup Campaign. Take a look at the announcement press release and notice the many working parts as well as the video (above) from the first week of the tour.

Now, imagine how you can leverage that kind of creativity in your organization!