Brands must build dialogue, says Coke marketing chief

NEW YORK: Brands should focus on eliciting expressions from consumers rather than impressions, said Joe Tripodi, EVP and chief marketing and commercial officer at Coca-Cola.

NEW YORK: Brands should focus on eliciting expressions from consumers rather than impressions, said Joe Tripodi, EVP and chief marketing and commercial officer at Coca-Cola.

He said Wednesday at the ANA/WFA Global Marketing Conference in New York that when a brand engages consumers and they express their thoughts, conversations arise, and that leads to “trust, goodwill, and understanding.”

Creating conversations is important, he added, because consumers want to know a brand's values, and they also want to feel important to that brand.

Coca-Cola, which is in 206 countries around the world, wants to double its business in 10 years. Therefore it must stand out with its marketing plan, Tripodi added.

“Our biggest competitor is really our past,” he explained. “We can't become complacent; we have to think new.”

Tripodi added that marketers can keep their ideas fresh by paying attention to global trends, like aging populations, sustainability, and the emerging middle classes around the world. They should also understand that the market is made up of more than just consumers, but also NGOs, stakeholders, opinion shapers, advocates, agencies, world leaders, and media, he added.

“Today's culture is driven by a sense of sharing and participation,” Tripodi said, adding that marketers should lead cultural dialogues, engage consumers through story-telling, and give brands a narrative. Last week, Coca-Cola fought back against reports that it was changing its recipe.

Coca-Cola, a long-time sponsor of the Olympic Games, is trying to encourage youth involvement in the upcoming 2012 summer games in London, he added. Therefore, the company created a video with the theme “Move to the Beat” to reach the teenage demographic.

Tripodi explained that a great idea doesn't have to cost a lot of money; it just has to be powerful.

“These are challenging times for marketers,” he said, “but it is also the best of times.”

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