By Juby John

Edited by Madhavi Roy, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist

You don’t become the most valuable brand in the world 13 times in row for nothing. Above all, wherever brands are seeking to genuinely connect with the consumer, commercial success will follow. Coke is known for its simple yet powerful campaigns, true to its “Open Happiness” brand slogan and this one’s no exception. Coca-cola Company won 20 awards at the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “Small World Machines” campaign claimed almost half of Coke’s Cannes awards.

Coca-Cola’s core brand positioning is about how happiness can unite people. And of course, the best place to test the power of happiness is at the border between two countries divided by decades of conflict. Believing in the insight that a moment of happiness can bring the world closer together, Coca-Cola used technology to help break down the barriers limiting communication between India and Pakistan.

“Small World Machines” is a concept Coca-Cola had been working on since 2011. It took traditional soda machines and integrated a unique touch screen. These machines were then placed in shopping malls of India and Pakistan with a goal of establishing a truly emotional connection among Coca-Cola lovers in the two countries. The machines used cameras to record HD footage that live streamed to both countries. People from both the countries and various walks of life were encouraged to complete a friendly task together- wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance before sharing a Coke. “Small World Machines” linked strangers in two nations with a hope of providing a small moment of happiness and promoting cultural understanding across the world. “Magic Machines” installed in Lahore, Pakistan and New Delhi, India- two cities separated by so much more than borders- invited consumers to put aside their differences and share a simple moment over a Coke. The Coca-Cola Company created a 3 minute video of the interactions and shared it with the wider world via social media. It partnered with Leo – Burnett to execute this inspiring campaign which shows that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart.

The greatest marketing campaigns are those that are memorable. They are the ones that resonate with the audience and really create an affinity between customers and the product or service. Emotional connection, relevance and the ‘wow’ factor makes marketing fantastic. No doubt, this initiative had all that! A Coca-Cola fan named Nikhil Bains quoted this Punjabi poem (translated into English below) in a comment he posted on facebook about the #smallworldmachines film:

“Let me take you back 200 years,

When the land in Punjab: green jewelled, and life was beautiful,

We had three meals, and maybe smaller houses,

When people would string the pearls of happiness together in necklaces,

Then we lost our senses and started fighting over religion,

And divided our home into two pieces,

Both Hindus and Muslims say their beliefs are different,

But have we all forgotten that we all are just HUMAN.”

Isn’t it alluring when our beliefs are given powerful shapes?

“Creativity is the crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value”, said John Kao (Harvard Business School).

What a fantastic quote to describe the real purpose of creativity in marketing! And in a content marketing era, it’s a brilliantly relevant quote. Creativity pays, but it’s so often overlooked, even by big brands. There always lies a correlation between creativity and commercial success, maybe that’s what Coke aims at achieving.

Jonathan Mildenhall, VP of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, Coca-Cola said, “The Coca-Cola Company’s powerful position in the global marketplace affords us the opportunity and responsibility to create positive change in the world.”

I am not convinced that the sugary drink does the above without damage to society. I don’t think that filtered and bottled water achieves that either. However, from a pure marketing standpoint, it’s hard to argue against a valuable marketing drive that also contributes in removing existing barriers from society. All Coca-Cola brands then ladder up to the bigger business mantra of ‘live positively’- a business wide statement of intent that encompasses everything the soft drink giant does.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind