The latest in a series of blunders for Coca Cola, saw the global giant’s marketing team post an insulting mistake for a New Years Campaign. It would seem there is such a thing as bad publicity as the company originally posted a map that excluded the annexed peninsula of Crimea but backtracked when it received protest from Russians. It quickly republished the photo to include Crimea, only for Ukrainians to threaten to boycott the company. The BBC asked to interview our managing director Joe Wade on the matter; “So why did Coca Cola get it so wrong?”
“I think Coca Cola is having a bit of a disaster”, Joe answers. In the interview he goes on to explain Coke’s embarrassing history of marketing mishaps. Citing a recent campaign, he demonstrates how Coke managed to offend Mexico, and consequently the entire planet’s indigenous community, by reinforcing stereotypes of indigenous people as culturally and racially subordinate; attributing the ad’s withdrawal to cultural imperialism.
Reflecting on why Coke may have been making so many faux pas, Joe reckons “it’s because they are such a huge global company. They desperately try to relate to local markets, and whenever they do this beneath global campaigns, it always seems to go a bit wrong, and they never get it right in terms of tone.” A ‘bit wrong’ could be Joe letting them off lightly. Earlier this year in another ‘whoops’ moment Coke managed to offend Germany with a campaign in which they encouraged people to ‘Hark back to the good old days of 1940s Germany’. Which incidentally, if anyone had forgotten, was the time of Nazi rule and one of the worst cases of mass homicide the world has ever seen.
The BBC went on to ask “Is it important for companies like Coke to relate to the local market?” to which Joe answered that other companies like Apple and Nike, who are both hugely successful global companies, do not strive to relate to local markets with the same apparent carelessness that Coke does. “Apple has very tightly controlled brand advertising coming from San Francisco that is instantly recognisable and really well done and nobody really cares that they aren’t trying to relate to local markets. For example I have bought their products and I don’t really mind that they aren’t making it relevant to someone who lives in the UK”.
Joe sights Nike as a brand who, despite being globally recognised, branch out with the help of smaller agencies who are better at listening in on local markets. This ensures that the work they produce is relevant, meaningful and perhaps most importantly accurate. Nevertheless, Coca Cola have stuck to true form and fumbled forward into 2016 with yet another marketing mess up.
Listen to our MD Joe Wade talk with the BBC about this incident; “@13” minutes http://www.bbc.co.uk/