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Coca-Cola's brand allure continues to woo Irish consumers


'Coca-Cola also stands head and shoulders above its competitors in the Irish carbonated soft drinks market.' Photo: PA

'Coca-Cola also stands head and shoulders above its competitors in the Irish carbonated soft drinks market.' Photo: PA

'Coca-Cola also stands head and shoulders above its competitors in the Irish carbonated soft drinks market.' Photo: PA

It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that Ireland's top-selling grocery brand is not Kerrygold butter or Brennans Bread. Or for that matter Barry's Tea or Tayto crisps.

Instead, that title goes to Coca-Cola which has been the best-selling grocery brand in Ireland for the past 15 years according to the annual Checkout Top 100 Brands survey, published in association with global research giant Nielsen.

At a time when more and more people are concerned about their health and well-being and are opting for a wide-range of healthier and 'free-from' alternatives across a number of different grocery categories, Coca-Cola also stands head and shoulders above its competitors in the Irish carbonated soft drinks market. According to Nielsen Scantrack, this is worth an estimated €305.3m a year and the top three brands are Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero.

It has often been said you can tell a lot about a nation by what it puts in its weekly shopping trolley. What this says about Ireland and our waistlines is open to many different interpretations - even more so when one considers that other brands such as Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Lucozade, Tayto, 7Up and Red Bull also feature in the Top 10 Brands compiled by Checkout and Nielsen.

But it is Coca-Cola that is the undisputed champion of the marketing world, not just in Ireland but globally. Notwithstanding some of the challenges facing the manufacturers of sugar-laden soft drinks, it is also the standard-bearer when it comes to highlighting the power of marketing and advertising across a range of different brand metrics.

Clearly the brand has come a long way since Colonel John Peterson, an injured American Civil War veteran, sought a cure for his addiction to morphine in 1886. His initial creation, a coca wine that was made from coca leaves and kola nuts (a source of caffeine), became the precursor to the most famous soft drink brand in the world.

There is a reason Coca-Cola has achieved its Olympus-like status in the marketing world. Last year, for example, the company spent a staggering $4.24bn (€3.76bn) on advertising. Over the last five years, the company has spent in the region of $20bn (€17.9bn) on advertising, putting it up there as one of the biggest investors in advertising in the world, alongside the likes of Unilever and P&G. The bulk of its investment has gone on big budget TV ads, as well as print, digital, radio, point-of-sale and advertising funded programming and sponsorship, with the USA accounting for as much as 20pc of its total spend.

It has also been responsible for some of the most iconic advertising over the last 50 years, from the 1971 spot that depicted a diverse band of people singing on a hilltop to the tune of a New Seekers' song right through to the Holidays Are Coming campaign, which was actually created in 1995 but still gets rolled out every Christmas.

Of course, not all the €3.67bn that was spent on advertising last year went on Coca-Cola. The company also owns a wide range of other brands in different markets, including the likes of Fanta, Sprite, Powerade and Deep RiverRock. But the success of all of its brands can be traced back to the company's slick and best-in-class global marketing machine.

It doesn't always get it right, however, and the company has encountered a number of bumps along the way. New Coke and Coke Life, for example, were perhaps a step too far for the brand. In addition, the messaging in its advertising strategy has sometimes appeared a bit disjointed and confusing for customers who were faced with several different variants of essentially the same product.

A key hallmark of the brand's success down the years has been its empathy and its ability to impart a feel-good factor among its loyal fans. Leaving aside the nutritional and health issues, Coca Cola has strived to be perceived as an uplifting brand.

Indeed, its latest brand purpose, which was launched last month, revolves around the theme of 'unite and uplift'. While it is hardly new, this new brand focus was launched alongside its latest global campaign called Can I Be Wrong. The TV ad depicts a range of people, including two superheroes, arguing and fighting over who is right and who is wrong.

As physical cracks begin to appear in the buildings and they begin to crumble, up pops Natasha Lyonne of Russian Doll fame and she suggests that maybe society could change for the better if we all took responsibility for our actions.

While this may seem like a sickly sweet sentiment that has more sugar in it than a litre bottle of Coca-Cola, let's not forget it is a soft drink that is being marketed by one of the masters of marketing. And the proof that it works is to be seen in our weekly shopping trolleys.



Shane O'Brien, one of the country's top creative directors, has been appointed as the new executive creative director at the Omnicom-owned BBDO Dublin.

O'Brien joined the agency in December as a creative director, having clocked up experience with agencies such as Rothco and its subsidiary Guns or Knives.

He steps into the role vacated by Dylan Cotter who has gone on to become the creative lead at Acne, Deloitte's new creative offering in Ireland.



With Covid-19 wreaking havoc on our daily lives, its impact is also being felt in the wider marketing and advertising sectors with a string of events cancelled or rescheduled for later in the year.

Events planned by the Marketing Institute of Ireland, the AAI, IAPI and the Marketing Society have all been cancelled or postponed while the Media Awards, which were due to take place last week, have also been rescheduled.

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