Coke’s marketing campaign in Singapore is, uh, cute?

18 Apr


How do you translate Coca-Cola into Singaporean English? How about, “Hug Me”? That’s the premise of a new marketing campaign that Coke has launched in Singapore. But what makes this newsworthy, at least for me, is that the message is being sealed with a gesture.

A Coke vending machine was installed overnight at the National University of Singapore. It looks like a fairly ordinary machine, in the brand’s iconic red and white. But instead of it’s logo, this machine says “Hug Me,” in the logo font. The marketer is using the license afforded by the infamous spoof logo t-shirts to spoof themselves. And instead of money, this machine responds only to the currency of hugs. Specifically, you have to squeeze the sides of the soda dispenser in a specific way to make a free Coke come out.

In a world where Facebook likes and photo comments are considered “social gestures,” manipulating consumers to make specific gestures is top-of-mind for marketers today. This campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, is an incredibly overt version of this trope.

Positioning this stunt at a university is a smart move in Singapore, where public signs of affection have long been discouraged, but are on the rise among the young. Coke is positioning itself as a non-threatening ally to affection demonstrating youth.

This is an example where the value to pain ratio is astronomically high. People would do a lot more for a Coke than give a hug, along the lines of the old cigarette slogan, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.” But the payoff is high for Coke as well, since things experienced through multi-modal learning are more memorable than visual and/or auditory stimulation alone.

In a statement as part of the company’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign, Leonardo O’Grady, ASEAN IMC Director, The Coca Cola Company, explained that: “Happiness is contagious. The Coca Cola Hug Machine is a simple idea to spread some happiness. Our strategy is to deliver doses of happiness in an unexpected, innovative way to engage not only the people present, but the audience at large.” In other words, they hope it goes viral throughout Asia leading to outbreaks of random hugging, all with the Coca-Cola brand in mind.

Pepsi is now trying to one up Coke in new Kuala Lumpur campaign. On an unrelated note, everyone in KL now has Mono.



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