Coca-Cola to Bring Back Red Coke Cans – Goodbye Polar Bear Cans

Coke Red Polar Bear - courtesy of breakingcopy.comCoca-Cola will be bringing back their trademark red Coca-Cola cans, replacing this year’s Arctic white seasonal packaging.  The Wall Street Journal has more information here.  The short summary is that Coke drinkers – especially Diet Coke drinkers – were unhappy with the white packaging because of its resemblance to Diet Coke.  The article goes on to describe how shoppers bought the wrong can from food establishments, how the red & white cans tasted different, and even told of incidents where consumers called Coca-Cola to complain about the packaging.  Some critics have even gone as far as saying this is the second coming of the “New Coke” fiasco.

My interpretation is that consumers are overreacting to the seasonal packaging.  Although this is the first time that the can packaging have changed to a different color, there has been numerous communications outlining that it is the same product inside the can, no matter the color.  Also, the 12- and 24-pack cans still come in the red cardboard packaging, and the boxes also communicate that the red cans are now white to support the World Wildlife Foundation.  It may be an issue of the shopper buying the product not paying attention to the messaging, and confuse  the fact that they may have bought Diet Coke when they got home.  They may even have gone back to the supermarket asking for an exchange before being told by that it is the regular Coke beverage and not Diet Coke.

For some shoppers that are fanatical about their beverages enough to call the company, not recognizing the packaging differences and the color differences may be testament of the brand’s strength.  Shoppers that routinely purchase Coca-Cola may no longer be purchasing the product based on price or the packaging communication.  Instead, they may be looking to make sure the price hasn’t changed dramatically (ie paying $3.99 and suddenly paying $5.99), and as long as the packaging is in the Coca-Cola red they will be picking it up.

Whether the packaging is in red or white, this helped generate numerous of media impressions for the company and the World Wildlife Foundation.  The unfortunate aspect is that the media took away the true focus on this seasonal packaging, which is to raise the WWF’s profile and the company’s monetary donation to protect the polar bear’s habitat.  When the red cans return, hopefully the message will go back to focusing on this aspect and not of consumers overreacting to red and white soda cans.

The red packaging will be slowly phased back into the supermarkets by mid-December and the white cans will be slowly phased out at the same time.  If you’re a collector, make sure to pick up the white cans before they’re all phased out.

Coke Debuts 414ml Bottle Nationwide

Coca-Cola was previously testing to see if a smaller 414ml bottle would work well in the marketplace, and have decided to launch it nationwide.  Guess the bottle was successful enough for them to release it everywhere.  Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Sprite will all be available in this new size.  The beverage is a single-serve bottle, meaning it won’t be sold in multi-packs or fridgepacks (unlike the Dasani fridgepacks which has 355ml bottles).

There’s a lot of questions to be considered about this new bottle size.  Why 414ml and not 450ml or 500ml?  What is the price point for this bottle?  How much will this hurt their 591ml bottle’s sales?  Why not a multi-pack as well?

First of all, 414ml converts to 14oz, so the rationale behind this awkward milliliter size is probably because Coca-Cola will roll this out to the US as well (if not having done so already and just launching into Canada now, but googling “414ml Coke bottle” has delivered no search results).  Since the US beverages are measured in ounces, it makes sense to have a 14oz so the production line can be easily configured to produce this size; they already have the 12oz (355ml),  20oz (591ml), 24oz (710ml), 34oz (1L) bottles.  Why not a 473ml bottle you might ask?  BevWire guesses it has to do with the price point.

The price of a 414ml is $1.29, as advertised by the Chevron gas stations.  This would sort of be considered an inexpensive option since a 591ml runs close to $2 now, and a 355ml can costs $1.  If a 473ml bottle was introduced, then Coca-Cola would likely run out of room to price it competitively and risk immediately cannibalizing their 591ml bottle.  Instead, it looks like Coca-Cola is releasing this bottle to have customers trade up (cannibalize) from their 355ml can sales.  Only 30 cents more, and you get 60 more milliliters plus a resealable bottle.

Why only sell this bottle in singles and not in multi-packs?  It can’t be because the size is too large, since they already have the 710ml in multi-packs.  It can’t be because it’s too small either, because they have the 355ml fridgemates.  Is it because there will be cannibalization here as well?  That’s quite possible but if they can sell it in the single, they should be able to sell it in a multi-pack.

Thing is, it looks like Coca-Cola has released too many different sizes for their core beverages, and when they were previously saying they were looking to reduce their product portfolio, you have to wonder if they considered reducing the different package options.  There are the 355ml cans and glass bottles, the 591ml bottle, a 1L bottle for the heavily addicted, and now the in-between 414ml.

BevWire thinks there will be a lot of cannibalization occurring, from both the smaller 355ml can and the larger 591ml bottle.  What are your thoughts?

Coca-Cola to Release Gold Can Commemorating the 2010 Olympics

To celebrate the Canadian team’s gold medal victory for women’s ice hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Coca-Cola will be releasing a limited edition gold aluminum 355ml can.  Starting March 1st, Coca-Cola will make gold-canned 12pk fridgemates  available in select Canadian cities and mainly in large-format stores (grocery and mass merchandiser format).  Apparently, only 350 000 cases of these special cans will be produced, so it will be in extremely high demand.

This is not the only gold can that Coca-Cola has, and certainly not the first time they produced commemorative packaging to celebrate the Olympic Games.  However, there is a strong possibility that  consumers may get the commemorative cans confused with the Caffiene-Free Diet Coke cans.  The two cans look similar!  Fortunately, in addition to just having gold cans inside regular fridgemate packaging, Coca-Cola says they will have special point-of-sale signage announcing the scarcity of these cans and hopefully this helps consumers figure out the difference.

Better pick up these cans while you can!!

**Update:  These specially marked fridgemate packages will have the second image seen above to communicate to customers that they contain gold cans rather than regular red aluminum cans.

Coca-Cola to make more eco-friendly plastic bottle

In a race to be more environmentally friendly, Coca-Cola is planning to introduce to a plastic bottle made partially from plants.  The bottles will be made with up to 30% of plant-based materials, converting  sugar cane and molasses components into polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the material that is used to make the plastic.

Coca-Cola’s first product to use this eco-friendly “PlantBottle” will be the company’s Dasani water brand, and expand to include vitaminwater and certain CSD sparkling beverage brands by 2010.  These certain CSD sparkling beverages are likely to increase Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Sprite.  Coca-Cola will provide special on-package and in-store messages to alert consumers of this new type of bottle.

Coca-Cola’s decision to use Dasani as the first brand when introducing this bottle is a good move.  Coca-Cola hopes to promote a healthier perspective, thus choosing Dasani as the first product to launch this new bottle.  By reinforcing this bottle launch with their best-selling beverages, Coca-Cola ensures that the message will reach the maximum amount of consumers.  In addition, these flavors’ wide distribution ensures that more plastic will be saved.

The war between the beverages companies to be more eco-friendly has stepped up.  Among the bigger bottled-water companies, Nestle uses less plastic resin in their water bottles, while PepsiCo recently released an eco-friendly bottle themselves.  PepsiCo has been bottling their Aquafina in these bottles since March.

So far, Coca-Cola says that only sugar cane and molasses can be used to develop this “PlantBottle” but are exploring the use of other plants to create the PET plastic.  Stay tuned for updates on ongoing developments!

Coca-Cola Releases Single With Latest Advertisement

cokeopenhapppinessCoca-Cola has launched a new music single to accompany the release of their third “Happiness Factory” commercial.  This jingle features established artists (Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes) and the up-and-coming Grammy nominated songstress Janelle Monae.  This single was produced by Butch Walker and Polow Da Don, who have worked with artists like Usher, Fergie, and Avril Lavigne.  The original song and the remix version can be found here.

Umut Ozaydinli, global music marketing manager of  The Coca-Cola Company says, “Adding a musical element to our popular Happiness Factory franchise is a natural progression to really making it a trans-media property.  Working with established artists like Cee-Lo Green and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and up and coming artists like Janelle Monae really brings together a unique mix of genres of music. Our new campaign is all about inviting people to share a little happiness and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. We believe that, through the use of music, we are able to enhance this message and help people to connect and have fun with the campaign.”

Music will be embedded into the Open Happiness campaign. The track will appear as the soundtrack to the new Happiness Factory TVC and be utilized as a vehicle outside of traditional advertising. In addition, a percentage of the single sales will be donated to charitable causes through the Company’s ‘Live Positively’ platform.

To support the release of this single, Coca-Cola has implemented a global marketing efforts which include:

  • a Myspace premiere of the single on March 16th, at http://www.myspace.com/openhappiness
  • an iTunes release, bundled with the behind-the-scenes “the making of” video
  • 200 million packs of Coca-Cola products in France and Great Britain promoting the new single
  • a music video premiere of the single in May (more news about premiere as it nears)
  • intergration into Coca-Cola’s radio and online marketing efforts
  • promotion at London’s Piccadilly Circus and New York’s Time Square

The release of this single is significant for the company and the brand.  Unlike the other two Happiness Factory commercials, this commercials features lyrics to accompany the five-note melody.  This allows consumers to develop an even closer relationship with the product because there’s less mystery and ambiguity between Coca-Cola and the consumer.

Also, Coca-Cola has established a relationship with music artists and producers, and will be able to use music artists to promote their beverage products.  Coca-Cola may also continue this relationship with other artists and producers to create other singles.  A suggestion may be to create singles that are geographically focused, and use artists from that region and convert it into the local language (ie. Chinese music artists for China, Indian music artists for India, etc).

Good move on the company’s part, can’t wait to see the music video!

Coca-Cola Classic, Classic no more

Coca-Cola is removing the word “Classic” from their packaging for the Coca-Cola Classic soft drink.  The idea behind this is that Coca-Cola Classic is not so “Classic” anymore.  You may or may not remember the Coke versus Pepsi taste wars in the 1980s, but Coca-Cola launched a new formula for the Coca-Cola beverage in response to the taste wars when people said Pepsi tasted better.  This launch set off enormous amounts of public protest and Coca-Cola ultimately re-launched the original formula as Coca-Cola Classic, while slowly phasing out New Coke.

new-cokeSome people say that Coca-Cola and “Classic” are interchangeable terms and taking out Classic will effectively remove a part of Coca-Cola’s history and also weaken the beverage giant’s brand.  Others say that removing the “Classic” will wipe clean the embarrassment of the failed product launch.

Those that are old enough to remember the taste wars don’t go around asking for Coca-Cola Classic when they want to buy a can of Coke.  They know the soft drink simply as Coca-Cola and whether the “Classic” label is attached or not, the taste remains the same and people still buy it.  Will anyone stop buying Coke if they remove “Classic” from the name?

Furthermore, those that don’t remember the taste wars only know Coca-Cola Classic as Coca-Cola.  There is no memory of the New Coke fiasco in our relationship with the brand, and therefore the term “Classic” is irrelevant.

Something else to consider may be the soft drink’s positioning.  Pepsi appears to be cornering the younger demographics through their communication as a hip, young, and edgy beverage.  Coca-Cola, on the other hand, appears to be advertising nostalgia and an enjoyable lifestyle to the consumers.  Nostalgia can only take the brand so far, and those that are nostalgic are getting older.  For the rest of us, the younger consumers, what is there to be nostalgic about?  Therefore, Coca-Cola needs to create some more memories with the younger consumers in order to renew those nostalgic feelings later on in their lives.  Maybe Coca-Cola will be called Coca-Cola now, and then in about another 20 years they will rename it as Coca-Cola Classic again.  Just for old time’s sake.