The fact that Coca-Cola is one of the most universally recognized brands in the world is far from coincidence, it took hard work and a healthy dose of inspiration. What started with one iconic beverage has now grown into a wide portfolio of many beloved brands. While producing quality products will always be at the heart of The Coca-Cola Company’s success, how it makes an emotional connection with fans is what has always set it apart. In this edition of #DayintheLife, I talked to David Allard, Vice President, Integrated Marketing Communications for Coca-Cola Ltd. Canada, about how Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) plans to renew those emotional links in the 21st century.
In a company where it isn’t uncommon to run into someone with over 10 years of service under their belt, David is a relative newcomer just shy of one year with the Company. Despite this, David has already had an enormous impact on how Coca-Cola Canada approaches marketing in the Digital Age. Before coming to Coca-Cola, David worked for several other major consumer packaged goods companies in Canada and the UK. “Coca-Cola was a thrilling company to join because it allowed me to work on things I’ve been passionate about my whole career,” David shared. “That’s not to mention the excitement I felt at just getting to contribute to the legacy of one of the best marketing companies in the world.”
David’s passion for what he does came through when I asked him to define IMC and saw his eyes light up. “Two teams work collaboratively within Marketing,” David excitedly explained. “On one side you have the Brand teams that strategize on opportunities with our customers and consumers as well as defining each brand’s unique identity. Then you have the IMC team that takes those opportunities and turns them into real, tangible things that consumers experience.”
What I learn from David is that this approach to Marketing is relatively new for Coca-Cola here in Canada. While we’ve had IMC in the past, it has usually been embedded within Brand teams where one person was expected to be an expert in many different fields. “The biggest challenge with this approach to marketing is that it is inefficient,” David told me. “For example, if something worked for us on social media on the Coca-Cola brand team, we didn’t necessarily apply those lessons to Sprite or Simply because it wasn’t within our focus. This new approach to IMC allows us to think much more broadly, to look at what we are having success with and how it can be used across our portfolio of brands.”
David also shared the challenges that an ever-changing marketing landscape presents and how IMC is equipped to respond. “Not only has the internet produced many new channels for marketers to work within, the evolution of social networks and the rise of mobile devices has undoubtedly changed the way Canadians experience marketing,” said David. “Our new IMC process and team is built to deliver the best experience for consumers regardless of where they are or what they like. We recognize that we need to be where our consumers are which is why we have launched new roles like Digital Strategy and Technology Manager, and Social Centre and Community Manager to focus exclusively on content for these unique spaces.”
The Coca-Cola Company has a history doing marketing like no one else, from timeless advertising like "Hilltop" or “Northern Lights” to award-winning innovative apps like Play a Coke (which was originally conceived right here in Canada). Through incredible hard work and creativity, Coca-Cola’s marketing teams have built a legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that make things like smartwater or Gold Peak more than merely drinks. With a refreshed approach to IMC, David Allard and his team are well positioned to continue that tradition into the future.