“Always’ Not Forever at Coca-Cola, Sources Say

Edge Creative Spot in N.Y. Pilot Is Model for Complete Ad Overhaul
NEW YORK-Coca-Cola is eyeing a sweeping shift in its core brand strategy, with a new advertising approach that could shelve its “Always” campaign by February.
The new ads will focus on capturing the subtleties of life from the consumer’s perspective, downplaying the current emphasis on the product and its various icons.
The first signs of the revamp are emerging in a pilot program in the New York market (the Northeast corridor up to Boston), with Atlanta targeted for the next phase, sources said.
One TV spot via Edge Creative, Santa Monica, Calif., shows a young woman in her bedroom dressing for a night out, going through a succession of wild, trendy outfits. Despairing, she chugs on her Coke and settles on an all-American T-shirt and jeans look. When she greets her two Coke-swigging girlfriends at the door, they’re similarly attired. That message, like others, aims to be “true to who the consumer is,” one source said.
A Coke executive confirmed that consumer research had prompted the shift. “Our brand marketing approach was designed to get at the heart of our urban youth consumer and reflects our brand philosophy of walking in his or her shoes and seeing the world through his or her eyes,” said Coca-Cola Classic brand manager Rajan Shah. “The campaign is designed to communicate from the youth’s point of view [and] delivers its message in a personal way.”
Coke would not confirm that the New York program holds implications beyond that region.
That model could ultimately evolve into a national ad push, said sources. Other moves under consideration include modifying the red disk icon.
The effect of all these shifts on Coke’s multiple shops is unclear. Few outright new assignments are expected. Edge Creative has helmed the somewhat uneven “Always” campaign for the past six years. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Leo Burnett and D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, among others, work on various Coke ad tasks. Agency executives declined comment or could not be reached.

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