Coca-Cola site creates a fizz - but is a content-heavy approach sustainable?

16th Nov 2012

What will Coca-Cola's decision to relaunch its website as a digital magazine mean for the brand - and will others follow? 

How does a brand such as Coca-Cola keep it 1.2m unique monthly visitors engaged? With a ‘Journey’, of course. Last week the drinks brand overhauled its corporate website with a content-driven platform similar to a digital magazine, named  ‘Coca-Cola Journey’ after staff magazine Journey that was published between 1987-1997.


Clyde Tuggle, SVP and chief public affairs and communications officer at the firm, explained: “Coca-Cola Journey is the most ambitious digital project Coca-Cola has ever undertaken, and we are doubling-down on our commitment to be a quality publisher of compelling content.”

That content covers topics such as business, community, entertainment, health and sports, delivered using a variety of formats such as blogs, stories, opinions, photographs, audio clips and videos. For instance, the launch homepage, or ‘issue’ as Coca-Cola refers to, featured a story about the brand’s work with India’s school,  innovation tips from chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent and an interview with NASCAR driver Danica Patrick.

Why We're Here asked social media guru Steve Richards from Yomego for his opinion on what the redesign means for Coca-Cola and if it signifies a future of content-led brand websites. 

He said: "My first impression was positive. The site has ‘storytelling’ at its core, an approach that aligns well with an effective social media strategy. Consumers will no longer accept ‘push’ messaging from brands, even if you’re arguably the biggest brand in the world. They want to engage with a brand – be entertained and because of Coke’s heritage and reputation, expectations will be high. In essence, it’s all about humanising the brand; making it accessible, relevant. Adding some fizz to everyday life. 

"So will other brands follow their lead? In short, it depends.

"A storytelling website presents a brand with an excellent opportunity to showcase its values and bring them to life. There are also strong emphases on corporate social responsibility, innovation and sustainability.  Integrity and transparency are also themes that work well in a social context and – as long as there is a credible and long-term commitment to these initiatives, they will build loyalty and promote advocacy.

"The ‘magazine’ theme also allows the brand to continually evolve its story, increasing relevance to consumers and investors alike.  Essentially, both parties are able to read and participate in the brand’s ever changing story. This approach not only underlines its heritage, but invites consumers to help to shape its future- far more effective than a copy heavy mission statement. 

"The site is extremely visual - a product of the Pinterest / Flipboard era.  This works for Coca-Cola because they not only have the content, but they have the resource to ensure that the site is consistently updated with fresh and engaging content.  From looking at the vast amount of dormant or static brand pages on social platforms, it is apparent that for some companies this resource simply does not exist. 

"In conclusion, taking this digital magazine approach is great for consumers, but can become a hazard for marketers. It not only requires a lot of strategic input from various different silos in the company, but also a lot of time and resource to ensure that it is managed effectively. The key is to plan effectively and ensure that the commitment to continually update with relevant and engaging content can be sustained. The invitation for consumers to interact needs to be genuine, sustained and rewarding.

"And if it isn’t popular, Coke must be nimble and brave enough to adapt it."

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