When we think of great campaigns in the history of advertising which have profoundly impacted pop culture, the Share A Coke campaign comes naturally to mind. While we’ve all heard and read innumerable lectures and books on personalisation in marketing being the next big disruptive idea, rarely has a campaign brought it to life with such enormity- not particularly of the budget or scale, but of the virality. Launched in 2011 in the land Down Under , the idea seemed simple enough – put up 150 of Australia’s most popular first names on the labels of Coke bottles and cans under the line ‘Share A Coke with’

It was launched at a time when big companies around the world were only mildly warming up to the idea of social media marketing.  Advertising was largely conventional- television and outdoor hoardings and billboards. Share A Coke was a campaign which was digital at its core- people could share a virtual coke to someone they loved. The campaign found an emotional connection with an entire nation.

As Jeremy Rudge- one of the campaign’s architects recalls, “…people were buying Cokes to show people they cared for that they missed them… from soldiers overseas in Afghanistan, to loved ones in hospital, to long-lost friends. We hadn’t really anticipated the packs being used in this emotionally powerful way. It was an example of how the public took the idea and shaped it themselves.

The campaign has since been part of an integrated marketing communications strategy across more than 80 countries around the world, including China, Israel, Norway, United States, Germany, New Zealand, Turkey, Great Britain and most recently- India.

Here are some interesting Share A Coke campaigns from around the world, each with their own unique creative elements added, with the core theme at heart:

Great Britain: Britons (and the rest of the globe) awaited the arrival of Prince George in 2013, who was welcomed into the world with a unique ad in UK’s newspaper Metro congratulating the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

The iconic Piccadilly Circus lit up with a celebratory message: “Time for a Royal Celebration. Share a Coke with Wills. Share a Coke with Kate." As a ‘Royal Warrant Holder’ (one of the specially selected companies that provides goods and services to the royal family), the team pre-empted the enormity of the occasion and tapped into the mood of the nation, joining in the celebrations.

China: Instead of using first names on the cans, the team decided to be a bit more playful- they use nicknames, such as ‘cool dude’ and ‘fans’. The creative genius behind the design was Jonathan Mak- the mind behind the iconic Apple logo created in memory of Steve Jobs.  Jonathan’s depiction of two hands sharing a Coke also made him the youngest recipient of the Grand Prix at the 2012 Cannes festival of Creativity.

Germany: Germany went a step further setting up an online store which allowed personalisation of bottles and cans with home delivery. Geh auf Coke.de und hol dir Deine Coke- the message read (Go to Coke.de and get your Coke). The ad campaign was launched with the question: mit wem wurdest du am liebsten eine Coke trinken? (Who would you like to drink a Coke with?) and tagline: Trink ‘ne Coke mit (Drink a Coke with us)

Israel: Israel’s Share A Coke campaign was driven by technology. Users downloaded an app in which they could enter their names. Personalised digital billboards synced with the app would then populate with the name using Geofence technology. The technology was such that the distance of the user to the billboard could be detected, and the billboard would populate the name accordingly. Users would get notifications in their app when their names were being displayed.

India: The Indian spin of Share A Coke has been reinvented to connect with the Indian consumers, taking ‘Relationships’ as the concept. With the theme ‘Har Rishta Bola, Mere Naam Ki Coca-Cola,’ the narrative draws upon the significance of relationships for Indians and reignites them by creating moments of happiness that comes from sharing a Coke. Labels have been created in 12 languages using 20 most popular relationships. Each relationship is accompanied by an exciting descriptor, such as:

  • Grandad (Old School. Yet Cool)
  • Grandma (Scolds me. Spoils me)
  • Daddy (My teacher. My friend)
  • Mom (Above the rest. Simply the best
  • Son (My devil. My angel)
  • Sis (Supermodel. Super role model)
  • Bro (Troublemaker. Merrymaker)
  • Boss (Pushes me. Promotes me)

and nicknames including:

  • BFF (Laughs with me. Cries with me)
  • Bae (Bugs me. Hugs me)

Watch the Share A Coke India Ads Here

So there you have it. Some unique ways in which Share A Coke was seen around the world. But at its heart, no matter where it went, the campaign remained entrenched in the core value of sharing happiness with loved ones through a bottle of Coke.

Who would you like to Share A Coke with?