According to Mildenhall and Pollard,
The Coca-Cola Company has been doing
advertising work that promotes social good
since 1955. Campaigns from that era, like the
famous “Bench” and “Hilltop” ads, may look
innocent now but were considered provocative
in their day. They brought people together across
what seemed to be impenetrable borders.
The iconic “Hey, Kid, Catch” ad from 1979 forced viewers to examine their own
prejudices by putting a large African-American male, Mean Joe Greene—who
had a reputation for being the toughest guy on the football field—next to a
young, white boy. It reminded viewers that there is good in everyone.
Look to read the pulse of popular culture and have the nerve
to comment on it in a relevant way. That was part of the
charm of the famous “Diet Coke Break” ads, which, when
first aired in the mid-1990’s, challenged the entrenched roles
of men and women. For the first time in advertising a male
subject was objectified.
During the anguished debate over violence in video games in the late
1990s, Coca-Cola took the crime lord from a game environment and
made him a powerful force for good. The Coca-Cola Company, Pollard
said, “likes to help you say, ‘Yes,’ in the face of ‘No.’”
Coca-Cola has started to turn the storytelling over to real people
doing actual work that matters in the world. The goal? To highlight the
company’s core values while supporting local community programs and
agendas. Mildenhall said it elegantly: “Brands must behave well inside
the communities they serve and engage in actions that
genuinely improve that community’s well-being.”
There are times when bad news outweighs the good.
Mildenhall and Pollard said the company decided during
the recent financial crisis to shine a light on optimism and
happiness. Coca-Cola looked all over the world for reasons
to believe, allowing the brand to be a source of hope.
Don’tbeseriousall the time
Not all socially conscious advertising requires
a heavy theme or tone. You can take a much
lighter look and still be effective.
No matter the size or the category, every brand should
address a social issue in a way that is relevant. For
an example, Mildenhall and Pollard pointed to what
Fanta has done with promoting the virtues of play.
“What unites the human race,” Pollard said, “is
far stronger that what divides us. But, the cultural
tensions that divide us have not gone away.”
All over the world opportunities remain
for brands to promote greater
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