Let’s not speak about who invented what at first (Coca Cola), and who as a second copied from others (Ferrero with Nutella). What matters is that social networks are nowadays big influencers on the products’ purchase, and represent the field on which the “share campaigns” have taken place lately.
Advertising is the last act of the businesses’ process in terms of marketing. When a business decides to convey its products or ideas through advertising, it has stated that “it’s correct like that”, being convinced on the correctness of the choice by market researches, distribution channels or by consumers.
It happened to Fiat some years ago, on the occasion of the new “500” launch. The choice of colours and finishing was submitted to a huge dialogue operation with potential customers through social networks. Today, the same involvement happens with names printed on Coca Cola cans, besides to public archives of the countries where the campaign is taking place.
Consumer goods have “decided” that social networks are not anymore, or not only, small talk places, but laboratories where opinions are shaped. For this reason, businesses take control on them, acquiring a direct role and proposing initiatives.
You will say: what a surprise! So far, businesses have only followed their customers’ initiatives on social networks, promoting actions of monitoring (or spying, as someone says), or promptly replying to complaints.
I will tell you about two complaints carried on by two friends of mine, then successfully solved.
Alessandro bought a new jacket, after the first washings he realised that its quality was very poor.
He posted a comment on the brand’s Facebook page. Because the comment was of public domain, it could become dangerous for the company. In fact, he then received a phone call from the customer service and the item was replaced with a new one. Case dismissed, sorry about that… a new jacket for him. Francesca, instead, bought a chocolate bar with mildew on it. She undertook two complaint
initiatives directly to the customer service. No response. Then, she complained via social network.
You know what happened? After few days she received at home a big box of chocolates from the company, with a letter of excuses. Case dismissed, no more complaints.
As said, companies are becoming players, no more only listeners. Their role is not that of a “follower” anymore, it is that of a “driver”. They are no longer subjected to initiatives, they drive them. We shall wait more. The time of businesses that are passive (and do not react) is over. It is time for counterattack.
Companies enter into this new process with brave choices. Coca Cola changes its visual identity. In the new campaign, the logo has been replaced by first names for a hyper personalised and super sharable product!
In fact, “the idea is developed around the concept of sharing” declares Fabrizio Nucifora, Coca Cola Italy Marketing Director “a strong value which means the chance to make a unique present to friends and the beloved ones, enhancing socialising and meeting occasions with people you love and maybe you haven’t seen for a while, or someone you would like to know better…”.
The strategy aims at hitting virally the young generations in the first place. “Viral” advertising is named after and acts like a virus. Once it is channelled into social media, it propagates exponentially.
The marketing concept is extremely interesting. Through a message spread on social media (and broadcast on TV commercials), users are invited to get together.
Does it work? At the beginning of the campaign, in only one month, the company collected 20 millions of opinions of people who spontaneously decided to share pictures and comments on this initiative.
Companies give up their name to the benefit of the consumers’ proposals. “Build your own sharing story by using me”: this is the promise.
On Corriere della Sera, Domenico De Masi defined it as an idea without creativity. We agree with his valuable thought. The absence of creativity is in the proposal itself.
As if you were saying “You go first… I’m starting laughing”. The company doesn’t expose itself; it throws the stone and let the consumers act.
Think about those people who never take a position, let the others do, prefer not to expose themselves. In our society they often win. Brave people who express their opinions are viewed as visionaries, maybe somewhat creative, and are not well perceived. It is a common idea that everything must be shared, facts and ideas developed in one mind are dangerous and it is better to
let them circulate through the group.
On themes such as groups and sharing, a renown advertising executive of the past, David Ogilvy, once interviewed on his relationship with his clients during his career, he affirmed that he had often worked with groups or commissions that took decisions with an impact on his work. When asked by
the reporter if he had preferred working with “bossy bosses” or with more horizontal groups, able to start a dialogue and let decisions grow within the group, he answered: “the answer is in the squares, there are many heroic statues of generals and none of a group”.
We wouldn’t like to pass for reactionaries. Our opinion is not to denigrate social sharing platforms, accusing them to nurture a flattened culture. On the contrary, we notice a strong need to emerge from the side of individuals. Social networks are not only a place where to find junks of clichés, flowers and pictures of cats. Social networks are media through which public opinion can be shaped worldwide, at different levels of deepness, often thanks to themes that generate a strong emotional reaction, locally and globally. In such a simple way, one goes from commenting the local chronicle news to the worldwide relevant event, with an unknown flexibility until a few years ago.
For this reason, companies (and their market researches) consider social networks as influential spokesmen.
The form of the customisation proposals, at the basis of the sharing idea of Coca Cola campaign, is a sign of the time. Elegant, decent, almost hidden signs on shirts (rigorously ton sur ton), bags (never outside, always on the internal leather pocket), handmade boots (on the internal part close to the ankle). Bold, loud, in capitol letters and flashy colours those on consumer goods.
Paired to the brand (and always in the second place) for luxury goods. In the place of the product’s name for consumer goods.
Richard Ginori, the prestigious and well renowned porcelain factory based in Florence, made a fortune by reproducing the crests of Italian noble families on its products. A graceful habit for rich people who cared about their history and liked to show off their tradition in their homes, with estimated hosts.
The names Mario, Pietro or Giovanna on Coca Cola cans find a place on virtual walls or on advertising posters.
Modern social culture is easy to describe. The basic idea is that the more I show myself, the less people will see me. Social network users need to distinguish themselves using differentiation techniques through particular narrations. In the meanwhile, users are sure of drowning the message in the triviality of the communication system, which is rapid and temporary. Differentiating is a need to get out of the always more pressing triviality. Differentiating one’s own narration is the way to emerge. The narration of one’s personal history occurs through polished pictures, sweetened stories, facts told as we think others could accept them positively. It is a kind of narration which allows to be there, but at the same time disappears in the stream of messages. The act of courage is affirming “I am here and I am unique”. The act of sharing is guarantying that “I think as you do”. It is an exclusive, strong, reassuring dynamic that influences society and thus even businesses’ choices

by Mirko Nesurini, CEO GWH Swiss SA

Read the published version in Italian here