The secret is out there: How Coca Cola used a multi-channel advertising campaign to engage the teen market

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Many companies worry about how their brand is being talked about online as it is seems unpredictable and uncontrollable. This case study shows how Coca Cola encouraged conversations to happen about their brand with a multi-channeled digitally focused ad campaign full of relevant, engaging and viral content.

More on this case study:
Brand: Coca Cola | Media: interactive digital marketing | Country: US | Sector: FMCG Drinks | Objective: engage the youth market | Agency: Wieden+Kennedy | Format: multi-channel advertising

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The integrated marketing communications strategy of Coca Cola provides a useful case study of how to approach turning conversations into transactions by use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile apps, and social gaming (to name a few).

This case study looks at how Coca Cola’s advertising strategy Liquid and Linked: Content 2020 was designed to move the company from creative excellence to content excellence. The Coca Cola concept of Liquid and Linked is described as the use of multifaceted, spreadable and relevant stories to provoke conversations that take on a life of their own. Its purpose is to create ideas that are so contagious they cannot be controlled – the liquid ideas – but are also innately linked to business objectives, brand agendas and consumer interest.


By leveraging opportunities in new media and transforming one-way storytelling into dynamic, interactive storytelling, Coca Cola’s aim is to continue to weave the brand image into the fabric of popular culture and engage the youth market, thereby increasing sales.

Coca Cola recognizes that the shift in traditional media planning from large channels such as TV, Hollywood, global events, and celebrity endorsements to the digital age means incorporating Facebook, mobile apps, social gaming, location technologies, and bedroom celebrities. By getting the big and the small channels to work together, stories can scale, spread and grow inline with their interactive marketing objectives.


The Coke Team Campaign in North America ran on the assumption that everyone loves a great story and teens are no exception to that rule. This multi-channel advertising campaign offers more engaging digital media than traditional online ads. Full of mystique and multi-layered storytelling, Coke’s aim to appeal to teens’ need for social recognition and interactivity incorporates elements of hidden, exclusive and customizable content. The integrated campaign incorporates a quest to discover Coke’s secret formula and uses a newly designed logo of a keyhole within a Coke bottle to signify an opportunity to unlock secret content. The online and offline roll-out of the keyhole logo allows for many, varied opportunities for teens to discover the tons of clickable and exclusive content Coca Cola has created.

Case study example

This YouTube video The Secret is Out There introduces Doc Pemberton, the inventor of Coca Cola. Clicking on the keyhole logo in the video opens the @docpemberton Twitter stream and the Coke Ahh Giver app on Facebook that allows the user to send a friend a personalized message and a free Coke.


This case study can only hint at the full results of the campaign, as it is still running, however the Coke Team Campaign has already generated 45 million conversations and 3 billion impressions. This campaign together with the first campaign to use the Liquid and Linked concept, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa Campaign, has helped earn Coca Cola over 36 million “likes” on Facebook to date. Additionally, the efforts of these campaigns in conjunction with other marketing strategies have resulted in Coke's sales volumes rising 5% percent in North America.

Watch Coca Cola’s full seminar on Liquid and Linked: Content 2020 presented at Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity in June, 2011:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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