Coca-Cola Spain: Branding 2.0

authorsJulián Villanueva, IESE Business School, talks about his case, Coca-Cola Spain: Branding 2.0, co-authored with Guillermo Armelini and Julie Michelle Ziskind.

The case analyses Coca-Cola Spain's use of social media and Web 2.0 to reach audiences that are no longer tuning in to mass media. It also discusses the similarities and differences between various social media platforms and the on-going evolution of online marketing.

Why Coca-Cola?

Social media is changing the marketing and communication paradigm. I believe quite strongly that brands will have to adapt to this new paradigm, and I think there is still a lack of good cases on this topic.

This case was written for a book on corporate communications (Real-World Communication Lessons. Villanueva, Bel and Cebrián, 2012) that was sponsored by dircom, the Spanish association of corporate communication directors. Coca-Cola was one of twelve firms selected by the association that were interested in participating in a book of cases.

A hot topic

Social media is a hot topic today. Managers recognise the need for their organisations to understand this new phenomenon. However, there is a huge generation gap in how managers understand social media.

I believe that there are many misconceptions about the true power of social media for brands, and that this needs to be addressed in the classroom. This new paradigm will affect some sectors more and some others less, and some brands will it use to their advantage, while others will lose out. Coca-Cola is a great example because in their 125 years of history they have been extremely successful in all types of media, but they still have to find a way to be relevant in social media.

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The writing process

Contrary to my experience when writing other cases, the process for this case went smoothly. Often the featured firm wants you to write a ‘success story’ when, in my opinion, good cases are those in which a protagonist has to make decisions that are not clear. The Coca-Cola Spain corporate communications director, and other managers we interviewed, were very open and as a consequence were happy with the case as it was written.

Teaching the case

The case can be used in a variety of marketing courses, such as those focused on integrated marketing communications, new media marketing, or the evolution of media. It can also be used in communication courses that cover topics including addressing a digital audience, managing corporate messaging across online platforms, and the effect that online communication has on traditional PR practices. Finally, it can be incorporated into organisational behavior curricula as part of the discussion on the distribution of marketing and PR responsibilities online, and on how the breakdown of geographical barriers online affects international companies.

The key learning objectives addressed by the case include:

  • Understanding the cultural mindset that gives rise to social media communities, how these are different from traditional media, and what type of corporate influence is appropriate (or relevant) for each environment.
  • Comprehending what makes both the traditional and Web 2.0 advertising methods effective – what key factors each one relies on and what type of communication each is most useful for. Understanding the evolution from ‘interruption’ and ‘content-adjacent’ models to ‘social’ and ‘online word of mouth’ models.
  • Grasping the challenges inherent in measuring the effects of social media investments.
  • Creating an appreciation for the dynamic nature of marketing and communication and the need for a brand to evolve along with its audience.
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There are plenty of videos of Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns (see Coca-Cola’s YouTube channel) and also corporate presentations from the company on that can be used to complement the case. My note, Social Media Marketing (MN-0381-E), can also be used with students.

Any advice for authors?

My advice for fellow case authors is to always focus on a substantive problem, one that managers face and where the solution is not obvious. Don’t write a success story, focus on the problem! It also helps to have protagonists in the case so that students have someone to identify with in the decision making process.

The case needs to read well and look professional. I also suggest that, if possible, cases be kept short. For Marketing cases I think that more than 10 pages of text is too much.

Read a Spanish version of this article

Case details

Julián Villanueva, Guillermo Armelini and Julie Michelle Ziskind
IESE Business School
Ref M-1269-E

About the authors

Julián Villanueva is Associate Professor of Marketing at IESE Business School, Spain
e tw @jvg1970

Guillermo Armelini is Assistant Professor of Marketing at ESE Business School, Chile.
e tw @garmelini

Julie Michelle Ziskind is a Management Consultant at KPMG, Spain.

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If you have recently registered a case with us and would like the chance to talk about your experience of writing and teaching it please contact Antoinette.
Antoinette Mills Antoinette Mills
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