Coke turns heads with celebrity bottles

For the past four years, Coca-Cola has worked with Exposure to generate a campaign celebrating the design of the Coca-Cola glass bottle.

Campaign The Sunshine Collection
Client Coca-Cola
PR team Exposure
Timescale September 2004-August 2005
Budget £200,000

Over the past year, to support the advertising strapline 'What brings you sunshine?', Coke asked Exposure to develop activity that would associate the brand with creativity and self-expression.

To deliver a consumer experience that would generate media coverage and positive word of mouth, and engage young, style-conscious consumers. To build on the 'What brings you sunshine?' ad campaign and reflect the drink brand's 'real thing' message.

Strategy and Plan
Exposure approached 15 celebrities, including Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney and hip-hop artist Roots Manuva, to design their interpretation of 'What brings you sunshine?' on an original glass Coke bottle.

Four of the creations – by shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, Radio 1 DJ Trevor Nelson, the Scissor Sisters' Del Marquis and designer Jonathan Saunders – were put into production to create a limited edition set of white Coke bottles.

To target upmarket consumers, Exposure negotiated with Harvey Nichols in London for it to be the exclusive retail partner for the collection and to support the launch with a VIP press event. Held on 9 June, the event was attended by more than 250 people, including actress Samantha Morton, fashion designer Jonathan Saunders and comedian Avid Merrion. Journalists from titles including Vogue, Elle, GQ, The Sunday Times, Dazed and Confused and the Evening Standard's ES magazine also attended.

In an effort to connect with young consumers, Exposure secured Top Shop as a secondary retailer, which created a window installation in its Oxford Street branch, as well as an in-store competition to win a 'sunshine holiday'. The bottles were also positioned in a number of trendy London bars, including Sketch in Mayfair and Lounge Lover in Hoxton.

A further 7,000 bottles were placed in high-profile environments, including Channel 4's T4 Pop Beach and at The Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition.

Measurement and Evaluation
The collection generated more than 50 pieces of editorial in national,
consumer, trade, online, style, regional and international press.

included articles in Esquire, Living Etc, Sunday Express Magazine, Attitude, ElleGirl, Grazia, You magazine and  Drapers.

Headlines such as 'Best Dressed Curves' in You, 'Cult Collectable' in ElleGirl and 'Message on a Bottle' in The Independent were typical.

Harvey Nichols, Top Shop and the bars sold out of the 40,000 limited edition bottles. The collection was so popular that there were 200 advance orders and consumers had to be restricted to buying only two sets of bottles each. In addition, within 24 hours of going on sale, the collection featured on eBay.

The Top Shop window display was extended from two to six weeks, and a story on the retailer's website got 260,000 hits.

The Terrence Higgins Trust received £1,000 from Coca-Cola on behalf of the 15 collaborators, plus a percentage of the profits from sales at Top Shop.

Gareth Scourfield, fashion editor at Esquire, says the campaign 'made me look at the product in a different way and was a breakthrough marketing tactic for such a big brand'.

Second Opinion
Gabrielle Shaw, managing director of Gabrielle Shaw Communications, has previously worked on campaigns for Pepsi
Exposure is not the first, nor will it be the last agency, to harness a limited edition or celebrity association, but in this context it was fun and it worked.

The campaign appears to have been successful in encouraging reappraisal of Coke among opinion formers and in giving the brand access to areas in which it would not normally be showcased – such as Vogue and Top Shop.

Getting Manolo Blahnik was a real coup. As with any celebrity association it is important that the link is authentic. I am a big fan of the 'What brings you sunshine?' strapline and I do feel the campaign achieved its objective of generating media coverage and engaging influencers. Coke is a brand that everyone thinks they know, so surprising and delighting people is a tall order.

One area not covered to my knowledge was features placement. Could they have leveraged the designers more and perhaps generated greater interest behind the campaign strategy in the marketing press?

This is also a great visual story and it would have been interesting to see it on TV. I presume the brief was London focused, but there could have been an opportunity to extend the link with Harvey Nichols and Top Shop to their nationwide outlets.

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