Coke’s once again using its product not only as a marketing tool, but a way to bring people together. In South Africa, where there are 11 different residual languages post-Apartheid, Coke created the “phonetic can”. Now, sharing one doesn’t just mean potentially connecting with someone new, but someone new with a name perhaps derived from another cultural enclave. As they put it, “getting a person’s name right is the first step towards getting along together.”
As part of the campaign, they created gifs for social that would help people learn different sounds required for correct pronunciation, renamed local radio stations to peoples’ hard-to-pronounce monikers, and created OOH billboards featuring names that were likely culturally unfamiliar to the residents of the neighborhoods where they ran. Beyond advertising, South African soap operas “worked the idea into plot lines”, and teachers even used the phonetic cans “as lesson tools in classrooms.”
Why it’s hot:
The ultimate marketing combination is connection and utility. Not only is this a great extension of its global marketing efforts, it’s one that has an intensely human side and altruistic goal. It’s not superficial purpose marketing, or a meaningless stunty gesture. Whether or not you actually share a Coke with someone whose name you couldn’t pronounce without help, you would still learn how to pronounce those names and at the very least be that much more culturally savvy as a result.