“Share a Coke”: Why Coke shouldn’t have released a list of the top 150 names

I don’t normally drink Coke.  I find it too sweet and sugary.  However, after hearing Coke was printing 150 of the most common Australian names on Coke bottles, in the “Share a Coke” campaign I found myself rifling through the shelves at all of Canberra’s major supermarkets.  (Even though I’m in marketing I’m still a sucker for a good marketing ploy).

However, after an hour and half of anticipation, frustration set in as it became clear that the nearby supermarkets were not stocking ‘Alec’ Coke bottles, so I trudged back to the office.

When I got back I logged onto the campaign’s Facebook page(which by the way is getting a lot of “likes”) to see if Alec was available.  To my surprise and disappointment it wasn’t and thus my interest in Coke immediately ended.

What does this narrative indicate?

Well for the hour that I was searching for a bottle with my name on it, I was intensely engaged with the brand.  I didn’t even want to drink the Coke when I bought it; I was going to display proudly it on my desk for everyone to see.

However, as soon as I realised I wouldn’t find “my” Coke, my interest in the campaign and the brand plummeted (I also wasn’t willing to go through the hassle of locating one of the few outlets which will personalize one on the spot).

Share a Coke with Jess: but not Alec (or Bork).

But how could Coke have kept me searching and engaged with their brand?

Hypothetically, just say Coke decided to release 1,000 of the most common names, but stage this over a period of 12 months (e.g. release around 100 new names each month), all the while keeping this list secret.

People would be much more likely to believe that they will eventually find a bottle with their name on it, and will conceivably keep looking.  Furthermore, people wouldn’t be disappointed by learning at the very start of the campaign that they would never find their name on shelves at all.

This would also promote greater engagement with the brand via social media.  People would post stories of how they found ‘their’ Coke, upload photos of the named bottles in various locations, and discuss the campaign amongst their friends, thus creating a level of excitement and engagement each time a new name was found on shelves.

Undoubtedly the aim of Coke’s campaign was to promote this type of engagement with their brand by being on a first name basis with their customers.  However, people will often lose interest if you can’t remember their name.

// Alec Schumann

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11 Responses to “Share a Coke”: Why Coke shouldn’t have released a list of the top 150 names

  1. Julian Clay says:

    You make a valid point, if the campaign was about finding your name on a bottle.

    But it’s not. The campaign’s aim is to have consumers see the name of a friend on a bottle and engage them to buy it and share it with their friend. It’s about reconnecting with friends/sharing with friends.

    Thus, “If you know a *NAME*, Share a Coke with *NAME*”

    • Thanks for your comment and I take your point Julian. However, the point I was making for the individual purchaser would also apply to somebody who wanted to purchase a Coke to share with a friend.

      If you want to share a Coke with *NAME* but you can’t find “their” Coke, the campaign also loses effectiveness.

      // Alec

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  4. Nomad says:

    Coke cannot possibly please everybody, who on earth would waste an hour looking for a coke can.. Stupid.

  5. Rach says:

    I agree with you Alec since I am also wondering if I can locate my name and the names of people in my family 😀 I have yet to see the list but know If the names are not there, I will lose interest very quickly. I think your idea is a great one and not about “coke pleasing everyone” at all. I found it to be rather insightful but I guess obvious when you come to think of it. It seems today’s generation is rather obsessed with the idea of celebrity. What better way to prove your popularity than to proudly display your name emblazoned on a coke can for the world to see. When people totally miss your point it must be frustrating as hell. You do a good job of keeping well mannered. Under the circumstances, it doesnt seem easy so I applaud you. You must have a great sense of humour lol.

  6. Julz (Julia) says:

    Hi, I have been lucky enough to find bottles with both mine and my sons name on them but would still like to see this ‘list’ – does it or does it not exist and where can it be viewed? Also I’ve heard that some ‘Westfield’ stores have a place where you can get a coke can or bottle personalised, does anyone know where these places are?

  7. Eric Marshmallow says:

    I know I don’t have a coke bottle in my name, but I still look every time I’m in the store, and I always end up buying one for my friends. So in that way, Coke is still connecting with the individual, and not just focusing on the people with popular names. Aside, why isn’t Jesus on one. He seems to be talked about a fair bit!

  8. serena says:

    I too have spent alot of time rummaging through the bottles looking for mine and my childrens names and after checking the facebook page realized none of our names were on the list however the next day we found a bottle with my daughters name (Ella) on it at woolworths.

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