Insights from Coca-Cola: Listen and Let Your Customer Be the Star of the Story

As the Global Marketing Director for Sustainability Strategy and Communication at The Coca-Cola Company, Javier Rodriguez Merino’s role is to share how Coca-Cola helps communities around the world and all the new ways it’s driving sustainable innovation. He’s also one of our stellar 2014 speakers at our 3rd annual Brand Leadership Summit, Oct 7-8 in Beverly Hills. Last year, Javier sat down with us at We First ’13 and gave some insights into how an organization can integrate sustainability into the core of the company and its brands.

People don’t want to hear companies talk about themselves:
Coca-Cola does more than 3,000 sustainability projects around the world. One of those projects is ‘Every Bottle Has A Story’ which launched in 2010 to engage with people leading sustainability measures in their communities. The project gave anyone from anywhere a chance to share a story about how new sustainability initiatives are making a difference in their local neighborhoods. This is a great example of how consumers want to hear from and be inspired by other customers and this is a concept Coca-Cola has really taken to heart.

Don’t go it alone:
Another way Coca-Cola devotes its time to communities is through the program Me, We and The World. This is a personal community and environmental well-being program with focuses like healthy living, women’s economic empowerment, and water stewardship, among others. While Coca-Cola created this system to help serve various global issues, as Javier explains, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of so many others in society, from other businesses, to non-profits, to passionate citizens from all walks of life.

Sustainability storytelling has its own challenges:
Like many companies, Coca-Cola is constantly experimenting with how to best share and scale their social impact by effectively using social media and new technologies. Doing so for sustainability initiatives has unique challenges including:

1. Defining priorities by what not only will have a business impact but also a societal impact.

2. Setting clear goals and aligning those goals towards a common vision.

3. Consistently integrating sustainability into the business and proving how sustainability builds brand equity.

By constantly piloting new ideas in different markets, capturing best practices, and scaling successes, Coca-Cola is learning and assessing the new ways in which their sustainability and community impact efforts can make the biggest difference.

If you are interested in learning how to tell your purposeful brand story from top experts like Coca-Cola, Facebook, Unilever, and the UN Foundation, join us at the 2014 Brand Leadership Summit. Buy your ticket by June 15 to save $1000. Register at