Coca-Cola channels millions in marketing spending to support Covid-19 relief

The Coca-Cola Companya winner of the World Branding Awards, is using its marketing resources to support COVID-19 prevention and relief efforts during the initial phase of the global public health crisis.

Operating groups are redeploying ad spending to supply healthcare workers and vulnerable communities with medical equipment, beverages, food and other critical supplies. Coca-Cola Philippines was the first of many markets to pause advertising for all brands in mid-March, posting social media messages about its plans to go “off-air” and channel funding to relief organisations. Most markets followed suit, with many opting to remain dark through the second quarter.

“We made the decision to communicate what we are doing as a system, instead of talking about ourselves. And doing, for us, means donating funds to address the most critical needs,” said Manolo Arroyo, Global Chief Marketing Officer and President, Asia Pacific Group. “There is no playbook for something like this, so we’re being as flexible as possible whilst listening to consumers and staying true to the essence and values of our brand and company.”

Coca-Cola teams – from Singapore to South Africa, Austria to Australian, and Brazil to Belgium – are using high-profile assets like billboards, truck backs, beverage packaging and social media channels to share uplifting messages of solidarity and gratitude to front-line heroes under the “We’re All in This Together” header, and to promote time-sensitive COVID-19 safety tips on behalf of public health authorities and partner community organisations.

In the United States, for example, a video montage of Coca-Cola employees showing their appreciation for essential healthcare workers and emergency responders is airing on the Coca-Cola Times Square digital billboard at 7 p.m. each night, joining the like-clockwork chorus of cheers from New Yorkers. The short clip features a mashup of virtual “thank yous” sent in from employees’ kitchens, balconies, home offices and driveways with the trending hashtag #ClapBecauseWeCare.

Chairman and CEO James Quincey addressed the company’s current marketing pause and approach to resume advertising as countries move through the recovery and return-to-new- normal phases. “We will re-engage when the timing is right,” he said. “These plans will vary from market to market with our earliest reengagement focusing on the recovery in China.”

The Coca-Cola system and The Coca-Cola Foundation, the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company, have pledged more than US$100 million/£80.4 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts in communities around the world.

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