Coke Is Most Talked-About Brand, per Study

NEW YORK According to a new study released by Keller Fay Group, Coca-Cola is currently the most talked-about brand in America. The ranking was drawn from 25,142 consumer conversations conducted between January and August 2008.

“They’ve been working [word-of-mouth] channels pretty adeptly, and clearly have learned a great deal since turning their corporate nose up at all the Diet Coke/Mentos experiments a couple of years ago,” said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights. “The accomplishment is all the more impressive since a basic carbonated soft drink is not inherently buzzworthy.”

Katie Bayne, CMO at Coca-Cola, North America, said: “We’re actively and consistently fueling buzz through innovative efforts like the nearly 11 million-household My Coke Rewards program . . . top-rated Super Bowl and Internet advertising, and an Olympic program that connected the world over a Coke.”

Its chief cola rival, Pepsi, came in fourth place, trailing AT&T and Verizon. The findings come from Keller Fay TalkTrack analysis, which examines word-of-mouth conversations held both on and offline. This is the first time the data have been broken down as such.

While technology, telecommunications and automotive dominated the top 20, packaged-goods and retail companies accounted for 32 percent of all word-of-mouth conversations.

Ed Keller, CEO at Keller Fay, New Brunswick, N.J., said this is because these brands fall under the realm of “social categories” and have greater frequency of purchase. Another reason is that consumers are exposed to retail and packaged-goods marketing messages on a daily basis. “Consumer packaged goods companies are quite good at using marketing to stimulate conversation, whether intentional or not,” he said. Often, this can be as simple as an in-store circular or coupon.

No. 5 Wal-Mart, for instance, focuses its marketing message around three key pillars: “Unbeatable prices, quality products and an easy shopping experience,” said Clint McClain, senior director of emerging media for Wal-Mart U.S. “Wal-Mart has never been more clear on who we are and how we can best serve our customers. We help people save money so they can live better.”

“People like to talk about things they use everyday,” said Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent, a Boston-based w-o-m marketing agency. “If you have a frequency of use for a product, it gives you more reason to talk about it.”