Ramadan Coke

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

7 July 2015

Ramadan Coke lessons in brand equity

A few weeks ago I went on one of my usual tirades.

It was about Coca Cola and its nonsensical campaign called “Share a Coke.” You should take a read of that post, if you haven’t already, before perusing any more of this post.

Mind you, I still believe that “Share a Coke” is a weak idea. However, Coke’s recent campaign in the Middle East is a case study in knowing your brand equities.

Ramadan Coke lessons in brand equity

You still know it’s Coke.

Coca-Cola without the “labels”

For Ramadan in the Middle East, Coca Cola is presenting a campaign that has its sights on recognizing worldwide prejudice.

In honor of Ramadan, Coca Cola has opted to scrap the historic white cursive letters on select shipments. What remains on the red can is the flowing white ribbon and a message reading: “Labels are for cans not for people.”

The Ramadan Coke campaign also includes a television spot that features a group of men, all of mixed nationalities, attempting to guess what each other looks like while in a dark room.

“The Coke version is arresting and memorable, not to mention, commendable.”

Coke’s brand is still on the cans.

In its campaign for Ramadan, Coke has embraced the power of its brand imagery. Even without the wording, the can still looks like a Coke. That’s because, in the market of soda drinks, Coke owns red, especially with the white accent ribbon.

I’ve witnessed this tactic in several other campaigns by brands with iconic imagery. Aflac, for example, produced a TV spot with a duck waddling around a room trying to quack the word “Aflac,” but never quite doing do.

Arm & Hammer also toyed with this stratagem in several print ads that simply featured a giant, bald head, minus any apparent logo present.

The results can be mixed. The Aflac one doesn’t quite work because Aflac, as a brand, doesn’t mean much emotionally. (It stands for the market of supplemental insurance). And the ad is basically a joke with a wink to the audience.

But the Coke version is arresting and memorable, not to mention, commendable.

Removing the brand name from its cans, even if only for a singular event, is as daring and fearless move by Coke. It is smart act of branding that demonstrates that Coke owns some of the strongest brand equities in the marketplace – and knows it.

1 Comment

  1. David Herrick

    YES! I completely agree and am encouraged by what they did with the label. I think that is about as cutting edge and contemporary as you can get. It’s the MOmA version of brand design. Mountain Dew did something (several years ago) to pay homage to its target audience. They redesigned all the PepsiCo cans – except in the UK. (their flagship brand took a beating for an attempt to redesign the Pepsi Icon) but something that went unnoticed what was the Type Design for Mountain Dew was reduced to “Mtn Dew”. I mentioned this to several industry vets (4 years ago) and they had no clue. I want to believe the design team succeeded tapping in to a cultural norm – Texting.


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