Integrated Marketing Communications Plan Case Study


This case study examines the Coca Cola IMC approach as described in the Cola War blog. Factors considered will include an examination of which components are expended in regards to the integrated approach, the comparative importance of the components, component efficiency, and the overall success of the IMC approach.

Integrated Components Used

The integrated components used by Coca Cola employed a mass media methodology which included television advertising, print media and banner ads. The approach utilized a marketing mix of advertising, direct marketing, as well as Web based interactive and social media marketing and sales promotion.

Coca Cola advertising has historically been among the most prolific in marketing history. The various ad campaigns throughout the company’s one hundred twenty nine year history have often had a major impact on culture and society, including a hit song which received airplay on popular radio stations in 1971. The logo and bottle designs are immediately recognizable throughout the world, and are integral to brand’s image and recognition in the marketplace (Wikipedia, 2015). In the southern U.S. the beverage is so pervasive that all soft drinks, typically referred to variously as soda, pop, or soda pop, are called Coke (McConchie, 2015). Coca Cola has repeatedly been ranked as the number one soft drink in the world as a direct result of their aggressive advertising campaigns, and was even the first soft drink consumed by astronauts in space (Hartlaub, 2015).

Direct marketing efforts by Coca Cola are myriad. The devices operated incorporate vendor company partnerships designed for exclusivity, i.e. restaurants and movie theatres only offer Coke products, eliminating any direct competition. They sponsor sporting events via use of the company, e.g. baseball fields, again offering attendant consumers the brand’s products solely. This allows for one-to-one sales to important clients in especially reserved seating areas. Mobile marketing endeavors send out text messages in an attempt to personalize promotions, and viral marketing exertions rely heavily on word-of-mouth communication from brand loyalists (Wilkin, 2009).

Web based and social media marketing campaigns constitute industry benchmarks. Because the brand is so universally recognized throughout the world, little if any audience building is necessary. Fans number over eighty six million across social media channels engaged by the brand. Differing tactics are provided on individual social networking sites, yet a consistently unified message is upheld. Crowd-sourced content as well as direct engagement are hallmarks of Coca Cola’s social media marketing (Shively, 2014). Web based interactive marketing is focused on design and functionality, relying on banners, video and public relations. New products, online games, and social, cultural and sporting events are the focus of the Coca Cola Website content (Darakeva, 2013). Coca Cola’s commitment to a campaign of audience engagement throughout their online marketing crusades is well recognized.

Sales promotion for Coca Cola is aimed at two strategies, retail and food service. Retail efforts are directed toward company partnerships, direct store delivery and point-of-sale (POS) techniques. Reliance on exclusive company partnerships wherein restaurants only offer Coke products eliminates competition. Direct store delivery is a crucial link in the value chain, and offers mobile advertising with bright red delivery trucks emblazoned with the brand logo. POS displays include brand specific coolers for in-store sales along with vending machines which carry Coke products. Food service activities emphasize Coke products in food pairings, menu optimization, and specialty beverages. Meals comprised of convenience foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, etc., are often supplemented by the suggestion of Coke products for accompaniment. Such foods may be combined with Coca Cola brand drinks for menu optimization, which may include specialty beverages such as Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, and others (CokeSolutions, 2014).

Comparative Importance of the Components

A comparison of the relative importance of the Coca Cola IMC components reveals a marketing communications mix which is iconic. So much of the brand image is immediately recognizable, right down to the bright red and white lettering of the names Coke and Coca Cola. This imagery is carried out globally, and is so established and acclaimed world-wide that even in languages that may not be familiar in local markets are readily known by consumers (Wikipedia, 2015). Multi-lingual ad use was in fact the case during the recent airing of the NFL Super Bowl Championship, in which the use of English, Spanish, Tagalog, Hebrew, Hindi, Keres, and Senegalese-French languages were incorporated along with the song America the Beautiful (Indian Country Today Media Network, 2015).

The Coca Cola IMC messaging has established a longing for the product that supersedes the desire for that typically associated with a drink to quench one’s thirst (Dudovskiy, 2015). The rank and positioning of the elements used as part of the integrated marketing approach cannot therefore be overstated. The resultant international presence of Coca Cola is a direct outgrowth of the marriage of the advertising, direct marketing, as well as Web based interactive and social media marketing and sales promotion efforts that have been included over the years in their IMC endeavors. Coca Cola has established itself as a player on the large-scale stage as a direct outcome secondary to the comparative importance of the components of the integrated marketing communications mix.

Component Efficiency

The efficiency of the combined IMC elements has proven to be quite lucrative. Revenue has recently been listed at forty six billion USD, with a profit margin of 15.43% and a book value per share of six dollars and ninety five cents USD (Yahoo! Finance, 2015). Annual sales in excess of forty six billion USD and a ranking of #4 of the World’s Most Valuable Brands place Coca Cola squarely on the global market. The company, which was incorporated on September 5, 1919, now carries over five hundred different beverages which are marketed on six continents (Forbes, 2014).

he competence of the combined components used in the Coca Cola integrated marketing communications exemplifies the excellence that can be achieved by a single brand. The achievement can further be evaluated by examination of media metrics such as advertising equivalency, the sum total audience which has been attained through particular media outlets, statistical figures of journalists hosted, number of articles published etc. In terms of market share benchmarks, Coca Cola is promoting and selling its products in over two hundred countries, and employs almost one hundred forty thousand associates, lending credence to the consideration of the company as a market leader in the majority of these marketplaces. Assessment of unique Website visitors, length of visit, search engine results (both free and paid) numbering in the billions on both Google and Bing and others offer insight to the combined component efficacy (Dudovskiy, 2015).

Overall Success of the IMC Approach

An effective integrated marketing communications approach that is deployed and maintained is an essential modern business requirement (Perner, 2008). In terms of successful outcome, Coca Cola’s IMC approach has set a standard that offers a point of reference of desired triumph that is enviable across the industrial landscape. Record-setting sales and revenues, brand visibility and recognition and positioning on the global market are indicative of the Herculean levels of accomplishment achieved by the company. Coca Cola products are consumed world-wide as a direct result of retail and in-store marketing efforts which are meticulously detailed. In the almost one hundred thirty years of business practice in the soft drink trade, Coke has risen to the top of the industrial food chain.

The elements which are expended in regards to the integrated approach, the comparative importance of the components, component efficiency, and the overall success of the IMC approach have combined to create a sensation that customers have warmly embraced. As long as this integrated marketing communications strategy is utilized there is no doubt that Coca Cola will continue to be a market leader that is universally recognized.


Works Cited

CokeSolutions. (2014). Beverage Sales Strategies for Soft Drink Marketing. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from CokeSolutions: http://www.cokesolutions.com/MarketingTools/Pages/Site%20Pages/Strategies%20and%20Solutions.aspx

Darakeva, V. (2013). Internet marketing of the Coca Cola Company. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/VenelinaDarakeva/internet-marketing-of-the-cocacola-company

Dudovskiy, J. (2015). Coca-Cola Marketing Communications: A Critical Analysis. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from Research Methodology: http://research-methodology.net/coca-cola-marketing-communications-a-critical-analysis/

Forbes. (2014). Coca Cola on the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands List. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/companies/coca-cola/

Hartlaub, P. (2015). Sweet! America’s top 10 brands of soda – Business – US Business – Food Inc. | NBC News. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from NBCNews: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42255151/ns/business-us_business/t/sweet-americas-top-brands-soda/#.VPL2zWd0z1I

Indian Country Today Media Network. (2015). Coca-Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl Ad Causes Stir – ICTMN.com. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from Indan Country Today Media Network: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/03/coca-colas-america-beautiful-super-bowl-ad-causes-stir-153391

McConchie, A. (2015). The Pop vs. Soda Page. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from Pop vs. Soda: http://popvssoda.com/

Perner, L. (2008). Promotion: Integrated Marketing Communication. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from ConsumerPsychologist: http://www.consumerpsychologist.com/intro_Promotion.html

Shively, K. (2014). Lessons from Coca-Cola’s Social Media Strategy: Cohesive Campaigns and Creative Content | Simply Measured. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from Simply Measured: http://simplymeasured.com/blog/2014/05/22/lessons-from-coca-colas-social-media-strategy-cohesive-campaigns-and-creative-content/

Wikipedia. (2015). Coca Cola – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola

Wilkin, R. N. (2009). Coca Cola’s Original Coke: Marketing Communication Mix. Retrieved February 28, 2015, from Blogspot: http://cocacolasoriginalcoke.blogspot.com/2009/04/marketing-communication-mix.html

Yahoo! Finance. (2015). KO Key Statistics | Coca Cola Company (The) Common Stock | Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from Yahoo! Finance: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=KO+Key+Statistics

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The original idea of the term “integrated marketing” was to “blur the lines that separate creative, media, television, radio, and print,” according to Tony Wright, CEO of marketing firm WrightIMC, on Search Engine Journal. “Then along came digital marketing.”

The result “became a bit muddled,” but integrated marketing is now recognized as a way to incorporate all types of communications to resonate with the audience.

Integrated Marketing is an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.

Data & Marketing Association

Here are some examples of integrated marketing campaigns that successfully combine marketing communications and tactics to provide a unified experience.

4 Successful Integrated Marketing Campaigns

1.    Always #LikeAGirl

Feminine care brand Always wanted to target the next generation of consumers. The company noticed an opportunity to support girls as they transition from puberty to young women, according to a case study from Design and Art Direction (D&AD), a British charity that promotes excellence in design and advertising.

“We set out to champion the girls who were the future of the brand,” Judy John, CEO and chief creative officer of advertising firm Leo Burnett Canada, told D&AD. “Girls first come in contact with Always at puberty, a time when they are feeling awkward and unconfident-a pivotal time to show girls the brand’s purpose and champion their confidence.”

Research discovered that more than one-half of women claimed they experienced a decline in confidence at puberty. The Always creative team was drawn to the derogatory phrase “like a girl” and developed an integrated marketing campaign to transform it to a phrase of empowerment. The campaign uses television, print and social media, but the centerpiece of #LikeAGirl is a video created by documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield. It led to the following results, according to D&AD.

  • The film generated more than 85 million views on YouTube from more than 150 countries.
  • Prior to watching the film, 19 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds had a positive association toward “like a girl.” After watching, 76 percent no longer saw the phrase negatively.
  • Two out of three men who watched the film said they’d now think twice before using “like a girl” as an insult.
  • The campaign won D&AD awards across eight categories and generated considerable global awareness.

2.    Southwest Airlines Transfarency

Southwest Airlines has launched an integrated marketing campaign called “Transfarency.” The airline uses television, radio, print and digital assets to demonstrate how customers will pay for things like checked bags, flight changes and snacks and drinks.

The airline has a microsite for its Transfarency campaign that showcases the value customers will receive by choosing Southwest over other airlines. It includes several sections of informational and fun content.

  • A #FeesDontFly comparison of Southwest and other airlines like American, United, Spirit, Delta and more.
  • A “Fee or Fake” game that tests customers’ knowledge of surprising fees they will encounter with other airlines.
  • A “Dear Southwest” Mad Libs-style letter that boasts Southwest’s status as the only U.S. airline that doesn’t charge checked bag or change fees.
  • A “Fee Hacker” section that parodies how customers can avoid fees with other airlines.

“It’s safe to say that the buzz the campaign has created on both Twitter and Facebook are positive signs,” according to Wright.

3.    Domino’s AnyWare

Pizza restaurant chain Domino’s created the “AnyWare” campaign to help people order food in more convenient ways. Domino’s AnyWare allows customers to order with a tweet, a text, Ford Sync, smart televisions and smart watches.

The idea was possible because two years prior to AnyWare, Domino’s established Pizza Profiles, which save customers’ payment information, addresses and an Easy Order. The Easy Order is a customer’s favorite food order that includes preferred payment method, order type (delivery or carryout) and address or favorite store.

Domino’s deployed press releases, a national television campaign and more to drive customers to AnyWare.Dominos.com, where they can learn about new ways to order. This successful campaign led to the following results, according to Shorty Awards, a social media awards show.

  • The AnyWare campaign generated 2 billion earned media impressions, including segments on Jimmy Fallon, Ellen and the Today Show.
  • The AnyWare website received more than 500,000 visits.
  • The AnyWare television campaign, which ran during the entire third quarter in 2015, generated 10.5 percent year-over-year sales growth.
  • The AnyWare campaign helped Domino’s achieve its goal of having half of all orders be made digitally.

4.    “The Martian” Movie Prologue

The prologue campaign for “The Martian” movie tried to overturn historically negative box office results for films about Mars. Using an integrated marketing strategy, the goal was to bring the world of the movie to life and foster the same excitement of the Cold War-era space race.

The multiplatform narrative was developed alongside NASA, Microsoft, GoPro, Under Amour, National Geographic and StarTalk. Marketing efforts incorporated social media channels and celebrity endorsements to go along with traditional methods. The videos, apart from the trailers, surpassed 20 million views, and the campaign was honored with numerous awards.

“The Martian” opened No. 1 at the box office in the United States, where it remained for four weeks. It was the second-highest fall opening of all time, was the most successful film ever for director and producer Ridley Scott and earned more than $600 million worldwide. The film won two Golden Globes and garnered seven Academy Awards nominations.

Pursuing a Career in Marketing

Businesses can use integrated marketing strategies to connect more efficiently with their audience. Aurora University’s online MBA helps students gain the knowledge and skills to leverage these opportunities and lead others. The program takes place in a fully online learning environment.

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