Q&A: Jude Brooks, interactive manager, Coca-Cola – part two.
Drinks giant Coca-Cola made significant investment in video and social media during its Olympics marketing campaign and this content-led approach now plays a major role in its digital strategy.
In the second part of new media age’s interview with Coca-Cola interactive manager Jude Brooks’, she talks about future challenges, how she sees the brand’s content strategy changing going forward and trying new things.
What are going to be the biggest challenges for Coca-Cola over the next year?
One of the biggest challenges is defining what we call digital. So much of what we do now has a digital layer to it, so where do you start and where do you finish when it comes to running campaigns and working out what the important bits are? You could just continue endlessly. The challenge is to identify which bits are working, and working most cost effectively, for you.
How do you divide budget across different disciplines?
We have a 70%, 20%, 10% split for budget, which we try to stick to, although it’s not always possible. 70% goes on things you know work, which could be TV or whatever it is you absolutely know is going to deliver what you need. 20% goes on things you’ve tried before, that you’ve got evidence should work, but you’re still testing the water. And then the last 10% goes against brand new, never been done before stuff that you’ve got to be willing to fail on.
It doesn’t always have to be innovative stuff. It could be that a brand hasn’t ever had any digital activity, so it could be paid search, for example.
It’s a fantastic platform to be able to refer back to. The economic climate we’re in at the moment does make it difficult to put aside 10% of your budget, openly accepting that you might fail. That can be quite a big ask to get passed the people that hold the purse strings, but it is a wonderful ambition. It’s something you can use when planning campaigns to push back to people who come up with very traditional plans and say where are we innovating?
What falls into that 10% remit at Coca-Cola?
It varies by brand but I’m really keen to explore the relationship with dual screen type scenarios, whether that’s the Shazam piece with ITV, or a Blippar or an Aurasma. We’re actually doing some work with Aurasma around James Bond for our Coke Heroes campaign.
What do all these changes mean in terms of how teams are set up?
Historically, we and many other organisations have been structured in disciplined siloes. So you have your digital team, your PR team and your media team, but now digital activity transcends those disciplines. There will be a digital element to our PR campaign because we want to be on Twitter and giving stories to bloggers. And there will be a digital element to TV campaigns, because we want to have VOD or Shazam-style activity.
Firstly, there are some structural issues that I think organisations need to get their heads around, which is how do you structure your teams to be able to exploit and deliver the best opportunity across the multiple disciplines of marketing? But secondly, the effort required for activating really good digital is so much higher than we’re used to.
How does digital marketing differ to more traditional activity?
When you book a TV campaign, you’ve got the effort required to create the ad in the first place, test it and then refine it. You then book a spot plan with your media agency, give them the ad and off you go. Six weeks later the job’s done.
The scale for what you need to deliver in digital is so much more involved because you’ve still got to create the content but it’s not just about creating one TV ad.
For arguments sake say it’s a six week piece of activity, you might need 30 pieces of content over that six week period. You’ve then got to create a mini plan for each of those pieces to get it out there. You’ve got the area of community management which can be a fantastically powerful way of driving engagement with the brand but that requires untold resource. There’s also the wonderful opportunity of optimisation.
I’m over simplifying it, but in many respects for a TV campaign you book your spot plan and off you go. You let it run and afterwards you may find that you didn’t reach the audience you wanted to. Digital media enables you to keep refining it. You almost want a people optimising on the fly.
There’s a lot of people who ask the question – is it worth it? Is it worth having a dedicated team of people doing your community management, producing the content, feeding it out or actually could you get the same ROI by making one TV ad and plonking it on ITV? That’s the question isn’t it.
How do you see your content changing over the next year?
I think we will get smarter at making content. Coca-Cola has got years of experience making TV ads and we’ve got global benchmarks so any piece of TV copy that we make we know how to research it, how to test, and how to run it against our own internal benchmarks. We can go into a campaign knowing it’s going to fly or whether it is a good piece of copy. We don’t have that knowledge of digital copy yet. We don’t fully understand what makes that 90 second Labyrinth video better or worse than that 90 second Wanted video. We’re still learning.
As we produce more we are going to learn which type of content in which formats works best with which audience. For me that’s the priority over the next year, to really start understanding how different content works better for us and ultimately what the most cost efficient is. Clearly it costs more to make a video than it does to put a photo up, but if you can get the same result from a photo as a video, well then we don’t need to make videos. I don’t believe that is the case, but it’s crucial to work out what benefits each offers.
What is the main thing you have learnt over the past year?
We have learnt that one of the things that works really well is the ability to be topical and that being topical requires a level of agility and nimbleness. Some brands do it phenomenally well. So the day after the Prince Harry photos [in Las Vegas] were in the press there was a full page ad from Lynx saying ‘Sorry Harry if it had anything to do with us’. That is just genius. You see certain brands doing it incredibly well and at Coca-Cola we’re not as agile as we’d like to be. We have legal teams that want to get involved, we have a corporate responsibility agenda where we don’t market to under 12s and wouldn’t do anything that was inappropriate.
We have really valuable brands. Our brands is what our business is all about so we don’t want to be slap dash or careless and that balance between agility and care is something that we have to work at.