For the past seven years, Coke’s branding slogan has been “Open Happiness”. In a recent shift announced yesterday, the multi-billion dollar soft drink brand is changing its slogan to ‘Taste the Feeling’. The branding change comes at the behest of Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto, who changed the slogan to unite the company on a global scale. This is the first time Coke has used one cohesive marketing strategy for all products.
The industry is moving forward with a focus on health. However, Coke’s reliance on sugar in their drinks puts them under a critical lens in a culture concerned with rising diabetes and obesity rates. The logic follows that the associations to diabetes and obesity are counterintuitive to the “Happiness” on their slogan. By focusing on taste, the company refocuses consumer’s attention to the product itself rather than the effects of the product.
Shutting the Door on Future, Focusing on the Now
The rebranding of Coke’s slogan to “Taste the Feeling” is a reminder to customers that before anything else, Coke is refreshment. It’s a return to Coke and the simple joy found when drinking a can, and away from the philosophical indefiniteness. Adam Padilla, CEO of Brandfire, had this to say:
“Open Happiness” was successful in making consumers “feel something,” Padilla said. “But it got away from the actual product in the can, in the bottle. When you start to float too far away from your product offering, it gets too philosophical. … ‘Open Happiness’ could be said about a lot of things, when you open anything. But when you talk about ‘Taste the Feeling,’ you have very strong connectivity with a feeling with Coke, and you also have the literal aspect of tasting it—the taste of happiness”.
Returning to the product is an important part of the new Coke campaign. The connotative powers of the words ‘taste’ and ‘feeling’ implies a litmus test of possibilities for the consumer. They return to the five senses appealing to a consumer; ‘Taste’ the base sense that Coke relies on, and ‘Feeling’ another sense word that has both tactile and abstract connotations.
The more the brand focuses on the here and now, the farther it gets away from the negative connotations of obesity and diabetes, which relies on long-term use. The here and now relies only on the current can in a consumer’s hand.
In his remarks in Paris announcing the change, de Quinto reiterated Coke’s new marketing focus, stressing Coke is refreshing consumers no matter the lifestyle or preference.
“We are reinforcing that Coca-Cola is for everybody,” de Quinto said. “Coca-Cola is one brand with different variants, all of which share the same values and visual iconography. People want their Coca-Cola in different ways, but whichever one they want, they want a Coca-Cola brand with great taste and refreshment.”
The change is not going to hurt the company in any way. It’s a savvy way to rebrand their product in the face of critique. By aligning with a populist demand for all around inclusivity, Coke and Coca-Cola are branding themselves as the drink of the people.