Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What the World Needs Is Zero?

As it was stated in Computer-Human Interaction Conference in Vienna back in 2004, ‘blogging is the latest form of online communication to gain widespread popularity and it is rapidly becoming mainstream’. Well, there are no doubts that today it IS mainstream already. Blogs in their current format emerged around 1997, and today, according to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report, we have an almost unlimited choice of blogs for our Readers, which amounts to more than 70 million, with 120.000 new weblogs created and 1.5 million posts written each day. So there’s little surprise that companies find blogging to be a very useful tool in their marketing campaigns. They use blogs as a new communication channel, providing an opportunity to inform their customers about their products and services worldwide and to receive feedback.

I am going to write more about how particular brands use this web phenomenon in the next posts. Today I just want to focus on one example, a controversial one, offering something to learn for the marketers. Enough about Pepsi, let’s talk about Coke for a change. Yes, Coke. Zero Coke. In 2005 as a part of a massive campaign in Australia Coca-Cola launched The Zero Movement blog. Oh, it’s awesome. Just have a look at it. The writer is apparently a young man in his 20s, depressed by working in a ‘cubicle’ under unbearable pressure. One day he wakes up (well, I think it happened just after he woke up, or, more likely, he was still dreaming – as such ideas come up only in the wildest dreams) and decides that ‘what the world needs is ZERO’. For real. I’m serious. ZERO = POWER. ‘Why do I have to act my age?’, ‘Why can’t a lunch hour go all day?’, ‘Why can’t guys…?’, and, of course, ‘Why can’t you have real taste and zero sugar?’. The comments to these posts are even smarter and look so real: ‘Coke Zero tastes really nice’ , ‘thank you Coke Zero... you made my life worth living!!’. You don’t have to wonder why this blog was widely criticized in press. The desire to connect to the target audience was apparently too strong here.

This blog got a lot of publicity, even more with the creation of The Zero Movement Sucks blog, criticizing Coke’s online spamming. But, of course, the campaign was planned with the intention to be controversial. The TV commercial they initially used in Australia was banned. Coke had to comment on ethics of its activities. Still, this campaign resulted in Zero Coke being the most successful new product launch in Australia retail history. Was Coca-Cola sure about its success? I think it might have failed just the same. But apparently well-calculated risks are worth taking if you want a success in marketing.

1 comment:

MarketRMan said...

Coke made a huge push to advertise Coke Zero during the NCAA Men's basketball tournament games. I'm eager to see how the it impacted online buzz and overall sales.