One of the most recognizable brands in the world recently switched things up for a good cause. For the first time ever, Coca-Cola changed its iconic soda can from red to white. The move was part of their new cause initiative to help protect polar bears and their habitat. The project is called Arctic Home, and 1.4 billion polar bear cans were planned to show up on store shelves from November 1 through February 2012.
Coke teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund for the initiative. To back the cause, Coke has pledged to donate the first $2 million. They are asking customers to also donate $1 by texting the packaging code or giving online at arctichome.com. Coke will match donations made with the code up to $1 million.
“We want to help the polar bear—a beloved Coca-Cola icon since 1922—by helping conserve its Arctic habitat,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “That’s why we’re using one of our greatest assets—our flagship brand, Coca-Cola—to raise awareness for this important cause. And by partnering with WWF, we can truly make a positive difference for these majestic animals.”
The Arctic Home campaign not only helps polar bears, but also creates relevancy that can lead to loyalty among younger shoppers. Research shows that almost half of Millennials are more likely to buy a brand they know supports a cause. And if Millennials believe in your company, they will voice that information with family, friends and in social networks.
To support their holiday campaign, Coke is airing television spots, online ads and print and outdoor.
By combining a core branding element, modern technology and the holiday season, Coke developed a seamless way to further build the brand. However, they immediately hit a sticking point with their holiday packaging. It turned out that the white can was too easily confused with Diet Coke’s silver can, so the brand switched back to its signature red can just a month into the campaign.
Even with that misstep, the campaign to support polar bears will continue as planned.
What do you think of Coke’s strategy? Does it feel authentic? Will consumers embrace the cause, no matter the color of the cans?