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A bunch of Diet Coke cans by AlwaysSecondBest via FlickrOne of my earliest brand-related memories involved eating lots of Weetabix in order to secure some ‘free’ Lego. I ate more Weetabix than ever before, and one sunny day my free Lego turned up. 

This reflects something that FMCG brands have known for many decades: on-pack promotions are an extremely powerful tool in the marketing toolkit.

Coca Cola is no different, and is currently promoting a campaign to win £10,000. All you have to do is drink lots of Diet Coke and look under the ringpulls for unique codes.

These codes can be redeemed by text message or online. It’s standard stuff, and it no doubt works like a charm.

The only issue here is in the execution, as you can’t actually redeem the code online! At least not if you follow the on-pack instructions.

Here’s what the instructions on the can tell you to do:

1. Find code under ring pull.

2. Enter code via text of online. To 88555 or visit cokezone.co.uk.

3. Good luck!

Straightforward yet inaccurate. The problem is a fundamental one: the domain name doesn’t work without the www prefix. It’s a schoolboy error, and Coca Cola isn’t alone in making it (there are countless examples across the web). 

You might think that it’s no big deal, but it is if you’re interested in maximising response. Campaigns like this are supposed to lure the consumer to engender participation, and loyalty, two factors that will drive repeat sales.

But if 5% of your respondents see the following message it might be the last time they take the time and trouble to bother responding: "Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access / on this server. IBM_HTTP_Server/ Apache/2.0.47 (Unix) Server at cokezone.co.uk Port 80."

And 5% of a lot is a lot. 

Think about it:

It’s an oversight, nothing more, and it is very easy for Coca Cola to fix this. But it proves that even the biggest companies (Diet Coke generated almost £400m in UK sales last year) aren’t focusing on the detail. 

Econsultancy recently dropped the www part to its domain (as explained by Ashley) but beforehand we always ensured that the it would work with or without the www bit. 

The www is dead. Long live the www.

Chris Lake

Published 30 January, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (3)



I am always surprised by sites not working without www. But the worst offender is New Media Age, the UK leading trade magazine for new media. Try http://nma.co.uk. No excuse!

over 7 years ago



Coke fixed this already.

and the japanese comment is spam.

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Good on Coca Cola for sorting it out so quickly.

over 7 years ago

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