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Coca-Cola shifts ad strategy to ‘accelerate’ low sugar variants and boost sales

Coca-Cola has revamped its global advertising strategy to promote all of its products at the same time to boost sales as consumers continue to cut back on sugary drinks amid health concerns.

The drinks maker has scrapped the tagline ‘Open Happiness’ in favour of a new brand communication ‘Taste the Feeling’, to fit under the ‘One Brand’ strategy it introduced last year to unite its multiple variants such as Coke Life and Coke Zero.

Announcing the news at a press conference in Paris today (19 January), the company’s chief marketing officer, Marcos de Quinto, said that the new strategy aims to eradicate the brand confusion within its portfolio that has in part been caused by its previous attempts to adapt to healthier lifestyles.

“We are able to have in the market versions with zero sugar, which is something that is more difficult for other industries. This is something we have done but we don’t feel that’s enough and it’s one of the reasons why we are shifting our strategy. We want to keep accelerating sales of low calorie and sugar free.”

Until now Coke's strategy has been to launch a new brand in response to consumer consumption trends and therefore a new personality, which de Quinto said has “contradicted the personality of Coca-Cola and undermined the brand promise which is that Coca-Cola is for everyone”.

The shakeup comes as the business enters what is expected to be the 6th year in a row that it has failed to significantly grow. Sales volumes rose just one per cent in the first nine months of 2015 and the company is hoping that by heroing the brand under one sentiment, it can reverse the decline.

The revamped marketing strategy's focus on taste is a sharp directional change from the product-focussed ‘Open Happiness’ and comes as the business looks to push the benefits of drinking as well as stop other categories such as energy drinks or flavoured waters from stealing a “piece of the pie”.

“In some ways we had been hiding the product and we need a little more balance,” continued de Quinto. “When you are the leader of a category if you abdicate talking about your product benefits then you let other categories eat your part of the pie. Iced tea, flavoured waters will start capturing volume from your category.

“Basically what we are doing is re Coca-Colizing Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is something simple, if we are a big brand it’ s because we have been a simple pleasure. The moment we become an icon we will become smaller, we are bigger the simpler we are. We are going to enforce commitment to help to control sugar over consumption by removing brand barriers to low/ zero calorie and to strengthen the brand by explaining its global equity and iconic appeal across the trademark.”