In layman terms, the goal of any advertising campaign is to create awareness. But every once in a while it happens that the advertising campaign evolves to be something much bigger than the original purpose of its inception. A few that come in mind are Santa Claus, Men in Blue and Wavin’ Flag.
Coca-Cola connection with the Santa Claus goes back about 80 odd years. It was in 1931 when Coca-Cola first released the campaigns with the man in red suit drinking the cola. Over the years, Santa become more famous and got closer to Christmas.
It’s a known fact that the obsession Indians have with cricket is unmatched in the world. Cricket is religion in India and the top cricketer is nothing short of God. If you want to send a message to more than a billion people, the best language used is that of cricket. Pepsi adopted this language and the connection they drew was to the uniform of the cricket team. Pepsi became the official cola sponsor of the team and launched a campaign called “Men in Blue”. Over the years, Men is Blue became the alternate name for the Indian cricket team.
In more recent years, similar happened with the K’naan’s hit Wavin’ Flag. Coca-Cola picked the song to be the promotional anthem for 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song became incredibly famous and eventually became promotional anthem of every team sport out there.
Whether it’s a jolly old fellow becoming the mascot to bring joy and happiness to kids around the world or a fancy name becoming permanently attached to a sports team or a promotional anthem becoming a celebration song for every team sport, if you look back it all became a grand thing partly because an advertising campaign took charge.
Interestingly, none of these were created by the advertising campaign. Santa Claus was a character created much before Coca-Cola created its own version. But eventually Coca-Cola version took over. Indian cricket team wore a blue uniform for the shorter format of the game ever since colored uniform came to the game. But they started to be popularly known as Men in Blue after Pepsi ran the infamous campaign. Wavin’ flag song was a Canadian hit much before Coca-Cola picked it for the FIFA world cup. But it became a global phenomenon after the Coca-Cola’s advertising campaign.
All these appear so awesome in retrospect but were definitely not planned to become social phenomenon. Advertising brains planned an outstanding campaign. Consumers adopted it and gave it a much bigger purpose than just an advertisement for the brand and the advertisers went along. The beauty is, after a while the audience emotional attachment with the brand is reversed. A seven-year old sees Santa drinking coke and draws a connection with coke. An Indian cricket fan sees their favorite cricket team wearing Pepsi blue (even though Pepsi changed its color to match the cricket team’s) and gets attracted towards the cola. Talk about ROI, it’s just immeasurable. It’s working for years and it will be reaped by generations to come.