Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ is one of the most famous campaigns of the 21st century. Seven years after first launching it, Coca-Cola adapted the drink cans for the South African market with phonetically spelled out common names.
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The initiative sought to break down social barriers in a country divided by 11 different languages and a complicated political past.
The campaign featured videos of ordinary South Africans talking about the heritage and pronunciation of their names. The videos light-heartedly reflect on the frustration that many South Africans experience as a result of having names that are difficult to pronounce.
Created by agency FCB Joburg, the Phonetic Can campaign put into action Coca-Cola’s belief that getting a person’s name right is the first step towards getting along together.
The campaign used several touch points spanning television, radio, social media, OOH, cinema and in-store.
For example, on social media, Coca-Cola focused on familiarizing people with more obscure African dialect sounds, such as the famous tongue click noise.
On the radio, Coca-Cola rebranded several well-known jingles as well as radio station names to feature different distinctive names. Coca-Cola also printed names on billboards and placed them in areas where residents would be most likely to be unfamiliar with those names. Teachers used The Phonetic Can as lesson tools in classrooms. One teacher was quoted in the campaign case study video as saying: “If I am not going to care for the pronunciation of your name, which is essentially your identity, I am showing a great disrespect to you as a human being”.
RESULTS / According to the brand, The Phonetic Can campaign resulted in a 158% increase in brand love as well as a 5.4% increase in volume in a country where the brand enjoys a 90% penetration rate.
This is an example of a campaign respecting the culture of its audience. The sensitive reinvention of ‘Share a Coke’ not only helped defend market share but continues to emphasise the brand’s core message of generosity, kindness and openness.