Friday, April 14, 2006

Product or Marketing? The Launch of Coke Blak

Coke has launched "Coke Blak", a drink that is described (by them) as having "Coke Effervecense with Coffee Essence". Yeesh. What a tag line. More like "Too-many-focus-groups with legal-department-restrictions essence". But that's another story.

AdFreak comments on it, and also points to a blog entry about Coke's massive Times Square give-away today. The blogger loved it. Here's a line that will live forever in the hearts and minds of Coke Corporate: Nobody turns down a free sample, and only an idiot would turn down a free sample that came in a glass bottle with a Coke logo on it.

But the key question comes from AdFreak: Quite frankly, I’m surprised Coca-Cola hasn’t seized on this marketing tactic before.

The fact is, they have. Coca-Cola has long sought out new usage occassions for its product (as has every CPG company in existence). Coke has tried to get people to drink Coke in the mornings for years, having realized just what AdFreak has--that Coke has all the same elements as coffee.

But they have always tried to do it through marketing and advertising. That is, trying to get people to take the exact same product they normally consume with pizza and burgers and crack it open on the way to work. The results have always been disappointing.

What's new here is that Coke finally realized that they needed to change the product itself, and I think they've done so very cleverly. The package has very clearly recognizable Coke elements, but it connotes a different sort of use.

Coke is doing this at a good time as well. Previous feedback from consumers has been that Coke is too sweet for the morning. But now, we've had years of people drinking carmel, candy-apple, double-chocolate, pumpkin lattes. This time, it may just work.
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