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So What Does It Take To Get On A Can Of Coca-Cola?

4 MINUTE READ | July 2, 2019

So What Does It Take To Get On A Can Of Coca-Cola?

On a dusty shelf in my childhood basement is a row of Wheaties boxes. My dad has been collecting them ever since he was a kid. The signature orange package sporting famous faces and teams have done nothing but fade since I’ve been alive, and yet there is no conversation that gets us any closer to getting rid of them. To my dad, the limited edition container is worth much more than the stale cereal still inside.

General Mills still reveals a new Wheaties box each year, but the allure has been lost on younger generations. Today, it’s soda cans that control prime real estate for celebrity mugshots and pop culture icons, and at 17.8-percent global market share with 94% global brand recognition, Coca-Cola’s signature beverage is beachfront property, especially since 1.9 billion servings are sold each day in 200 countries. So, what does it take to get onto a can of Coke?

Holding the record for the most streamed television series is a good start. In a recent announcement, Coca-Cola is pulling “New Coke” out of The Upside Down in partnership with Stranger Things’ third season. The stunt is supposed to be a playful nod to the brand’s infamous attempt to change the Coke recipe in the ‘80s. Coke says that it’s “trying to not take itself too seriously,” although the brand may be hiding its true motive in plain sight.

Coca-Cola x Stranger Things

In total, season one of Stranger Things averaged 23.4 million demand expressions across ten markets with season two of Stranger Things putting up similar numbers. That kind of popularity would have even the most exclusive brands open to partnerships. It makes sense that Coca-Cola, a brand that’s made billions on the idea of sharing is open to collaboration. So who else has made it on Coke’s guest list?

2008 James Bond (Quantum of Solace)

Coca-Cola x James Bond (Quantum of Solace)

2016 The Avengers

Coca-Cola x The Avengers

2018 BTS

Coca-Cola x BTS

2019 The Avengers (Endgame)

Coca-Cola x The Avengers (Endgame)

What do a Netflix show, a KPOP band, and the most iconic tuxedo in Hollywood all have in common? The answer is not all that surprising. Global recognition. Stranger Things is the most streamed show not just in the United States, but around the world.

Similar fandoms follow The Avengers, James Bond, and BTS (let’s just call them the One Direction of South Korea). It’s safe to assume that Coca-Cola, which generates 60-percent of its revenue and 80-percent of its operating profit from outside the United States is looking for a partner with universal appeal. But don’t let Coca-Cola’s impeccable resume as a host intimidate you. As it turns out, the idea to partner with Stranger Things started as an offhand joke by the shows’ creators. Sure, it helps to be best in class or infinitely connected, but Coke didn’t become the king of cola by ignoring big ideas.

Coke Classic may be THE cash cow, but let’s not undervalue the other 500 brands in Coca-Cola’s portfolio. From the outside looking in, it was probably a long shot, but Universal Studios’ 2017 reboot of The Mummy made it onto a can of Fanta for its October release. The partnership with Universal allowed Fanta to have a bit of fun with famous monsters from the silver screen around Halloween, and despite poor reviews, the film amassed $400 million at the box office. A win-win.

Fanta x The Mummy

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When you’ve been around as long as Coca-Cola, there have been countless big ideas passed across boardroom tables. Don’t sell your brand short when thinking about new ways to promote an upcoming film, product, or client. There will always be room for a big idea when the polar bears and Santa Claus are offseason. Until then, take risks and tell jokes. It may be all that separates you from a can of Coca-Cola and a spot on a collectors’ shelf.


Posted by Grant Weber

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