When you think of Coca-Cola, what is the first thing you think of? Do you think about thirst-quenching goodness, the sweet taste of magical caffeine elixir or how happiness is one sip away? If you think any of these things, you and I are alike. If you instead think of Pepsi-Cola and how much better it is in some, or any way, then we are quite different. To me, Coke is the soda king and nothing compares to it.
Back to my original question, try to think of why you think of Coke as you do. I know my overwhelming positive reaction seems a bit over the top but I am not ashamed. I’ll acknowledge that living in Atlanta, home to Coke headquarters and the World of Coca-Cola, has given me a strong bias but it goes beyond that. Not only is their product the best in its category but the brand itself epitomizes energy, fun and, of all things, happiness.
Ever since the renowned creative agency Wieden + Kennedy launched the ‘Open Happiness‘ campaign in 2009, Coke has been synonymous with a feeling that every person craves. Regardless of your lot in life, you want to be happy and this campaign brilliantly played into that. The message itself is as simple as it is effective and memorable. By connecting this emotion to the consumption of a beverage, Coke has positioned itself in the minds of consumers.
Even if you actually prefer the taste of Pepsi to that of Coke, you at least have to give pause and perhaps even alter your purchasing behavior when choosing your soda. Or if the psychology sunk in deep enough, you might even long for a Coke even if you aren’t thirsty or in search of caffeine. And still Coke doesn’t rest on its laurels. The brand is always moving forward. Being the #1 global brand takes serious work but regardless of where Coke is, the company never forgets its happiness mantra.
Go to Argentina, South Africa or Russia and the message that Coke promises is present. Sure the product offerings will be country specific and the messaging will be in different languages but that iconic, logo-ed bottle won’t. The human race doesn’t differ in the overall pursuit of happiness and Coke not only knows this but embraces it. By respecting the different cultures and delivering their message in various ways, the brand always finds a way to not only be relevant but to stand out. There is their #RandomHappinessWeek for one or, better yet, observe the “Happiness ATM” Coke set up in Spain.
Or, as I did earlier today, you can go the Coca-Cola Facebook page and you can share a Coke with a friend simply through the ‘Coca-Cola Ahh Giver.‘ The company is always finding new ways to deliver the same message that Coke = happiness. Seriously, how simple does it sound? To enable others, Coke drinkers or not, to use the brand to share happiness in some way allows Coke to be viewed favorably. Regardless of location, consumer engagement is paramount to success and Coke is a master at it. Take their Super Bowl ad as another example…
Though this wasn’t one of my favorite commercials, it was a massive success since it got consumers to react and interact with Coke. It was so successful in fact that Coke even went dark on Twitter for a few hours due to continually exceeding the tweet limit. That is astounding. Coke continues to be top of mind through never refusing to be passive in marketing itself. The creativity they exhibit as they continually adapt is impressive, especially when you compare its main rival, Pepsi, who are either tweaking their products or just copying Coke yet again. See for yourself.
In my opinion, Pepsi is jealous of Coke. Yes they have a great spokesperson in Sofia Vergara but they just can’t help to spoof, attack or imitate their big brother in hopes of a bigger payoff. Years ago they attacked Coke with their “Pepsi Challenge” campaign, then they did it again by ripping off the Coke polar bears, or through commercial attacks and now they directly mock Coke commercials – it shows weakness. What isn’t weak is Coke, as their subtle response to Pepsi’s latest attack illustrates.
Though I gave up soda as a new years resolution, I now find myself wanting a refreshing Coca-Cola. I won’t cave but that doesn’t mean I can’t buy one and share it. I just have the urge to share the joy of Coke with someone. Perhaps I’ll do so next to the Pepsi machine at Emerson College in downtown Boston since Coke is present there. I’m always annoyed when the choice is taken out of the equation. For example, I hate it when I ask for a Coke at a restaurant and the waiters says “Is Pepsi okay?” If Pepsi and Coke were the same thing, both would be equally good and both would symbolize happiness and joy. They don’t.
I’m aware that soda is bad for you but happiness isn’t. And neither is quality. The brand wars will never go away, especially in the lucrative beverage industry, but there is and always has been a clear leader – Coca-Cola. If you have any doubts, just conduct your own taste test. Though both products are good and share similarities, one is overly sweet, sorry Pepsi, and the other is simply canned or bottled perfection. Assuming you realize how much better Coke is, find someone you don’t like and give them the “gift” of a Pepsi.