Last week I had the pleasure of listening to a joint session between Coca-Cola and WWF at the Cause Marketing Forum in Chicago. As anyone who noticed the white Arctic Home Coca-Cola cans will tell you, the campaign to protect and restore polar bear habitat was a bold marketing move in terms of commitment to a cause, scale of execution, and dramatic results both for the brand and WWF fundraising. Equally valuable to all of us are the insights and learning from a large scale, purposeful partnership , and so I wanted to share the lessons they passed on at the event.
In terms of their ‘Keys to Success’, Coca-Cola and WWF shared four main points:
1. Partnership: It is far move effective to make a meaningful difference when you partner with an expert in that subject such as the WWF and polar bear habitat.
2. Champions in leadership: The ability for a brand of any size to act on a purposeful initiate turns on the commitment of leadership.
3. True to brand equity: Any effort must be ethically aligned with the brand’s equity, for example, Coca-Cola and their long-running campaign featuring polar bears.
4. Innovation and risk: Any marketing initiative involves a degree of risk but purposeful commitments are also largely uncharted, so a combination of the two is required.
Yet, as with any bold move, there were ‘Learnings’ and here’s what Coca-Cola and the WWF shared:
1. Always room for more collaboration: No matter how busy everyone gets and how quickly a project scales, you can never have too much collaboration so that things never get out of control.
2. Defer to the expert on the issue: Always know what you know and know what you don’t by deferring to the expert on a topic (for example, Coca-Cola with marketing and WWF with polar bear habitat).
3. Simplify participation mechanics: With so many engagement tools and strategies to choose from, it’s easy to over complicate things which makes it doubly important to keep the consumer engagement part simple.
4. Carefully consider the role of each communication: As a project builds to and expands beyond the launch, it’s important to ensure each communication is directed towards a strategic goal to avoid miscommunication and maximize the positive impact of the marketing spend.
Arctic Home is an important commitment by Coca-Cola and the WWF in its own right but its also a powerful and inspiring case study for other brands to follow. It’s success odes well for other brands seeking to bring their values to life in ways that are meaningful to the company, its employees, consumers and the world at large.