C&B Notes

Coca-Cola and Gesture-Based Marketing

Coke continues to innovate new ways to market, including working hard to tailor its message for different audiences/cultures.  A recent sit-down between two CEOs we admire enormously (Coke’s CEO Muhtar Kent and Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy) speaks of Kent’s international interests and focus.  We enjoyed this example of positive brand association:


A Coke vending machine was installed overnight at the National University of Singapore.  It looks like a fairly ordinary machine, in the brand’s iconic red and white.  But instead of its logo, this machine says “Hug Me,” in the logo font…And instead of money, this machine responds only to the currency of hugs.  Specifically, you have to squeeze the sides of the soda dispenser in a specific way to make a free Coke come out.

In a world where Facebook likes and photo comments are considered “social gestures,” manipulating consumers to make specific gestures is top-of-mind for marketers today.  This campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, is an incredibly overt version of this trope.

Positioning this stunt at a university is a smart move in Singapore, where public signs of affection have long been discouraged, but are on the rise among the young.  Coke is positioning itself as a non-threatening ally to affection demonstrating youth.

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