Coke celebrates the 'mother tongue'

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 02, 2015
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The brand is also celebrating 100 years of its iconic contour bottle, through campaigns and exhibits worldwide.

With so many days to celebrate, do people remember historic events and dates such as the significance of February 21? Beverage giant Coca-Cola came up with a heart-warming activation in Bangladesh to remind people about the joys of speaking in their mother tongue, on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day.

On February 21, the company put up a vending machine in a public spot and asked passersby for the name of the person they would want to wish. However, the vending machine accepted answers only in Bengali or Hindi, upon receiving which it promptly rolled out a bottle of Coke. The bottle stood out from the regular PET bottles because of the personalised label written in Bengali.

The brand has also invited people to log on to where one could order for more such personalised bottles for their loved ones. However, the site only had a limited number of bottles in stock which could either get home-delivered or picked up from a specified location.

Coca-Cola is also celebrating 100 years of its iconic contour bottle. A global ad campaign has been launched which shows a pair of hands recreating the bottle shape, by just bringing them close to each other. Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, and Ogilvy, Paris, have worked on the celebratory campaign. Coke will also launch an exhibit, opening later this month, at the High Museum of Art in Coke's hometown of Atlanta. The exhibit will include "more than 100 objects, including more than 15 works of art by Andy Warhol, and more than 40 photographs inspired by or featuring the bottle," the company said in a statement. Incidentally, the original Coke bottle was designed by the Root Glass Company and was shaped uniquely, so that people could recognise it even in the dark.

Coca-Cola has always been innovative when it comes to connecting with its loyal fans. Towards late 2014, the brand came out with the 'Happiest Thank You' campaign, where people were encouraged to thank random co-workers, neighbours and friends, with a personalised bottle. The video received three million views in five months.

A few years ago, the 'Happiness Machine' (another Coke vending machine, this time installed inside a college campus) churned out several free bottles of Coke whenever a person paid for one. The buyer then had to share them with friends and strangers from the college. With six million views, this has been one of Coke's most popular campaigns on the net. Similarly, the 'Sharing Can' experiment saw the vending machine giving out a special, one-of-a-kind can, which could only be opened if it was shared with another person.

Taking the 'Share Happiness' principle forward, Coca-Cola introduced a phone booth in Dubai last year. Migrant labourers, who generally do not have enough money to call back home too often, were given the opportunity to make overseas calls by using Coke caps as token money. The video went viral on social media and received over three million views in nine months.

In India, Coke took up the bigger ideal of creating peace by placing two identical vending machines in India and Pakistan. The citizens of each country had to interact with each other, take part in shared tasks and share their happiness. Only then would a Coke be handed out to both participants by the vending machine.

This is not the only socially relevant campaign Coca-Cola has undertaken. In May 2014, the brand distributed 16 different bottle caps in Asia, which let a regular empty Coke bottle to be turned into an array of interesting items. These included a paint brush, a dumbbell, a sharpener, a water spray, a ketchup bottle, a night lamp, a toy, and even a bubble blower. The campaign tied it back to the theory of recycling and defended the brand's use of plastic for every product.

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