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Coca-Cola explains how it showed Saudi Arabia a new side of its brand

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By The Drum | Editorial

November 30, 2023 | 6 min read

There are few countries where Coca-Cola is not the market leading soft drink. Saudi Arabia is one where Coke's Technical Innovation award winning campaign saw the brand create a highly engaging experience that worked across media platforms. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning digital work

Coke is a global giant, yet in KSA it suffers with lower consideration and market share than Pepsi. While the basics of marketing such as price, distribution and product are all taken care of, the brand struggles to be loved and appreciated as much as the competition. With that in mind, Coke wanted to find a way to break through the “blue wall” while getting closer to consumers in the Kingdom. The goal was finding a point-of-differentiation that could trigger brand closeness, naturally leading to sales. To succeed, Coke would have to truly understand how shoppers behave not only when they shop for drinks, but also when no shelves are in sight and yet the cravings appear.

The challenge laid in devising an experience that could help Coke infiltrate culture and merge buying and consumption behaviors, ultimately making consumers crave a coke when they would usually choose Pepsi.

Creative Idea "I See Coke" A built-in Alexa skill that puts Coca-Cola on viewers’ lips every time it pops up on screen, turning over 100 years of product placement in movies and TV shows into an interactive shoppable experience:

Just spot Coke on any movie or TV show

Say "ALEXA, I SEE COKE"

Alexa will reply: "WHERE DO YOU SEE IT?"

Say the name of the movie

Alexa will have a cheeky reply related to the movie and send a promo code to your registered email to purchase any Coca-Cola product with a 50% discount through e-retailer (Nana)

Rather than shoving more ads down people's throats, Coke decided to reward them while watching the content they already loved.

Strategy

The challenge for Coke was to carve a space in the hearts of Pepsi-loving Saudis while turning them into Coke shoppers. Knowing that it’s easier for consumers to crave a brand when they’re in love with it, Coke had a simple yet beautiful solution on how to activate and captivate Saudis. While Pepsi owned the ad-breaks, Coke saw an opportunity to take advantage of Saudi's average of 3h35m watching video content to turn their beloved daily activity into a conversion experience driven by the increasingly popular “Alexa”. The partnership with Alexa turned every home with the device into an interactive activation with a shelf for consumers to buy Coke almost impulsively, removing the barrier of the “Blue Pepsi wall” from their eyes. Once the connection happened, technology turned something meaningful into a relevant disruption, leading to a seamless and convenient commerce experience, while creating a new shopping ritual.

Execution To bring the "I See Coke" experience to life, we cataloged thousands of hours of content. Using machine learning, we identified hundreds of Coca-Cola placements and created customized replies for every single appearance. We then launched nationwide and automatically added the skill to Alexa Devices in Arabic and English. Without any download or activation required. Social content and Iconic "Movie Hints" were created to drive more engagement and get followers to guess the movie based on the illustrations of specific scenes. And because Coke is as unforgettable in the movies as it is in real life, (Like Eleven crushing that Coke Can on “Stranger Things” or Kevin McAllister having pizza and a Coke in a limo in “Home Alone 2”) we enabled people to engage with “I see Coke” and enjoy Coke offers even without spotting them live. The more product on people’s lips, the better.

Results

Pepsi might have arrived first to the Saudi Arabia Market and be first on marketing media spend, but by capitalizing on 100+ years of big screen placements, Coke was first:

FIRST to innovate and convert existing product placement into direct sales

A successful commerce unlock, with a record high 96% offer redemption, when average trial and coupon redemption in the region hardly ever surpass 30%

FIRST on the lips (literally) Coca-Cola became the most voice-mentioned FMCG brand to Alexa and “I See Coke” became the 3rd most engaged skill overall on Amazon.

FIRST on Awareness By the first week of the activation, Coca-Cola (Coke) had increased social mentions by 237% vs the rest of Q1 2023, and it surpassed organic social engagement and sentiment of Pepsi in the region.

FIRST on Reach “I see Coke” content reached 2.9 MM people, 33% above benchmark, with View Through Rate doubling figures.

Cultural Context Pepsi has always been a firm favorite in the Middle East. And this preference and leadership is due to both cultural and commercial factors, that led to the brand and consumers to get closer and ‘love’ each other. “Sales of Pepsi's products have traditionally been stronger in the region, due in part to an Arab League-imposed boycott on Coca-Cola in 1967/68, which began when the firm decided to open a bottling plant in Israel. The freeze on Coke sales did not end until 1991. For many years its major rival Pepsico Inc. --not on the blacklist--enjoyed almost unchallenged dominance throughout the Arab world.

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