PRWeek editor-in-chief Steve Barrett talks to Coca-Cola's VP of global connections about the drink manufacturer's move into content and media ownership, putting owned media first, the PESO mix, and the challenge of measuring effectiveness.
Q: Describe your role at Coca-Cola.
A: My job is to work out where it's best for us to bring our stories to life and all the things we can do in this new connected digital and traditional world. All the things we could do. My role is to work out what we should do because it's the most effective use of our resource for the greatest creation of shared value – value for us as a business and adding value into a community.
Brands as content producers
Q: So Coca-Cola is a content producer and media owner in its own right?
A: I think so. Increasingly, every big brand is starting to have to do that because the world is hungry for more content. It's not just more content. The world needs more good content; otherwise you're not going to stand out. We're not thinking of ourselves as a content producer or media owner in the same way that maybe a Red Bull would.
Q: They're almost making money from it.
A: As soon as the guy jumped out of a balloon, they had paid back the media rights. So, yes, we're very interested in that. But look around the personalized bottles with our names: that's a media owner producing its own content. Getting a marketing program and a communications program that is creating value around the world is here right now. It's creating value and we didn't have to pay anybody else for it.
The PESO media mix
A: That's only any part of what we do. We still love media - still love paying for it when it's the most appropriate tool for the job. We still love PR, still love earning the point of view of respected people that have influence – that is huge and important. And we work with our customers as well.
We've gone from being reliant on a paid model, with some supporting things. It's what we try and persuade our people to think: owned first, earned second, shared third, paid fourth. But what's the right and appropriate mix of those four things to solve whatever particular business need you have right now.
Measurement and effectiveness
Q: How do you measure the value and effectiveness of content?
A: We probably convinced ourselves we could measure advertising to the penny, but whether or not the data we were getting from a TV network equals real value, I don't know. But it's a great question. It's probably our biggest challenge right now. You want to know your return on investment.
I'd be honest to say we haven't cracked it. We're working very hard to understand. The more often we do more different things, the more data we get, the more we start to understand. How we measure it is, did it make a difference to our business? Did we sell more, make more money?
Q: And you can measure that?
A: We are getting closer to it. These are the three things that are our aspirations. So that's the first thing, did it sell more?
The second thing, did it add a bit more goodness into the world? Did we move the needle on the things we want to stand next to people and help them with? Because, increasingly, you've got to be a value exchange: I want to buy this with my pocket money because you did something for me, or me and my mates, or for me in my world, or something for the world. How do we measure the goodness we're creating?
And the third thing, and this is one we're working a lot on, is if we can measure the buzz it creates. What's the sentiment, or the noise, the chat, the velocity and direction of conversation?
Those three things are what we're going after. I'd be telling an untruth if I said we've cracked it - but we're working hard on it.