"Consumers today are telling us they want brands that are genuine, authentic and real." This is the rationale behind a major new marketing campaign for Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drinks brand, which will be rolled out in the US and then worldwide throughout 2003.
Chris Lowe, chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola North America, said that the 'Coca-Cola…Real' campaign was designed to reflect "genuine, authentic moments in life and the natural role the brand plays in them", adding that the campaign would vary from country to country to reflect the differences in 'reality'.
"Authenticity, originality and 'real' refreshment are part of our heritage, and what the brand has always stood for," said Lowe. "These are values that consumers associate more strongly with Coca-Cola than any other brand."
As well as the new advertising campaign, Coca-Cola will continue its sponsorship of music events and its programme of promotions and one-to-one marketing initiatives, as well as introducing new packaging and graphics for the main Coca-Cola brand, all designed to tap into the current youth culture.
The first TV spots for the new ad campaign will air in the US next week during the Coca-Cola-sponsored American Music Awards. "These ads convey what consumers told us it means to 'be real' - being true to yourself, plugging in to life and connecting with others, with a natural optimism," said Esther Lee, chief creative officer at Coca-Cola North America.
"Creatively, the upbeat tone of the campaign reflects the heart, fun and desire that are core characteristics of Coca-Cola."
The campaign will also be used to highlight the new look for Coca-Cola, including a revamp of the famous ribbon motif - which has already been re-introduced on Diet Coke/Coca-Cola Light packs.
More than a dozen television ads, and multiple print and radio executions are scheduled to appear during the first quarter of 2003, said Lee, including African-American and Hispanic-focused spots, as well as ads tailored to support Coca-Cola's sports sponsorship.
But the youth market is, as always, at the forefront of the new marketing campaign, and music will play a major part in promoting the brand. "Young people are passionate about music, and we're keeping it 'real' by featuring music that is artistically credible," said Lee.
As well as the creation of a 'Real' theme song and the sponsorship of the American Music Awards, there will also be the launch of Coke FM, radio spots featuring a variety of new artistes.
The time and money spent by Coca-Cola on this new campaign shows that despite its already dominant position in the soft drinks market, the company is conscious of the fact that its core consumers - young people - are often fickle and easily swayed by the latest high profile product, and that this is more true than ever in the cutthroat world of soft drinks.
There is little that is new in the campaign - both Coke and chief rival PepsiCo have frequently focused on music and sporting events to promote their brands to younger people - but it is the scope of the campaign which is impressive this time.
It also highlights the difficulties faced by smaller players trying to compete in the soft drinks market - with the core audience saturated with advertising for the market leader, making their voice heard, and getting their product noticed, is becoming increasingly difficult.