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Looking at the new World's Cup campaign from Coca Cola and its new video, I was struck by how closely it follows a pattern we've seen emerging in video advertising for the past five years.
I was also struck by how Coke's effort differs from Pepsi's #FutbolNow World Cup campaign and the calls to action, overt or otherwise, in its video.
In this post you can watch both videos and see if you agree with my points. For more detail on best practice in video advertising, see our Online Video Best Practice guide.
Coca Cola's approach
Brazil is the largest market outside of the US for YouTube and Facebook. That makes it ripe for the video advertiser. Of course, the World Cup isn't simply a Brazilian event, it's global. It's the chance for brands like Coca Cola, for whom television advertising has been a cornerstone of marketing strategy for decades, to really nail a global campaign.
Engagement, even greater brand awareness, user generated content and ultimately a greater share of the soft drinks market - these are just some of the Coca Cola's goals.
Here's what I picked out from its video:
Why do people share video?
Unruly, with its ShareRank methodology, has done a great job of quanitfying why people share video. As I have written in a previous article, the 'ShareRank metric attempts to bring a degree of qualitative research to the creative punt on the subjective'.
What this metric has shown is that bathos can work very well. By using sadness initially, to accentuate happiness and warmth later in a video, the propensity for viewers to share the video is increased. Coca Cola's advert is a great example of this.
Pepsi's on the other hand, I think, is much poorer. The cheesy footballer cameos feel dated, though they will appeal to a certain audience, and the guy who fronts the ad is forgettable and feels like an actor.
Corporate social responsibility
A variety of factors (awareness of global warming, continued international conflict, the food chain and fair trade, as well as the impact of the recession) have made brands take a much stronger line on CSR over the last ten years or so.
Coca Cola knows that the World Cup highlights the disparity between many of the world's populations, and so it doesn't shy away from this. Some may be cynical and say acknowledging this is to Coca Cola's benefit, but any charitable work by companies is surely a good thing.
That Coca Cola has taken this approach marks it out from Pepsi's fun but rather vacuous ad, although the Pepsi ad is shot in a variety of brazilian locations.
Yep, Coca Cola's video is exactly two minutes long. Bang on. Pepsi's ad is two minutes and 15 seconds. Many people even question whether two minutes is too long, but I think it is a standard now, giving enough room for storytelling (if it's good, of course) and precluding lengthy intros.
In fact, I'd go as far as to say the Pepsi ad is 15 seconds too long. The intro was a bit flabby for my liking, given I didn't know who the guy was, drinking Pepsi, and no context was given.
The World Cup is global (the clue is in the name) but advertisers are also aiming at an increasingly globalised consumer. The internet has opened up the world for many who can't travel and in turn, marketers are more confident presenting the global face of a brand to customers in local markets. Of course, local sensitivities, cultural or otherwise (payment, social platforms etc) make a difference, but increasingly a cute campaign can cater for all.
The Coca Cola advert is subtitled in English, and I'm sure in many other languages, too. It is spoken-word heavy. The Pepsi advert goes much further, employing almost no words whatsoever, apart from the first few bars of the song (English song lyrics are fairly well accepted globally) and the hashtag at the end.
I actually think this works against the Pepsi advert, which has that feeling of a hedged bet, rather like an advert for a European consumer good that's then dubbed into English.
Fairly obvious here, but adverts are increasingly being made on bigger budgets, with much the same goal as making a short movie for the big screen. Great cinematography, content and innovation that make a viewer want to engage and watch more than once. This is the blurring of content with advertising. It's getting very difficult to tell the difference between the two, with video, native advertising, etc, making some people lash back against the term 'content marketing' as they believe the 'content' should be inherent.
The big but
Let's look at the views so far on YouTube:
Coca Cola: approximately 430,000 views at time of writing.
Pepsi: approxmately 700,000 views at time of wrting.
This is quite a disparity, especially considering the Coca Cola ad has been live for five days compared to Pepsi's four (agan at time of writing). Of course, both numbers are significant, but I think this difference shows a potential advantage for Pepsi.
Although Coca Cola's advert has more sharing triggers in the narrative and style of the content, the afore-mentioned bathos etc, Pepsi has these three secret weapons (a hashtag, music and footballers).
As I stated previously, I think the footballers make the actual content cheesy, but they will inspire a younger audience to share and view the video (I was surprised more skills weren't on show, a la the Nike adverts of old). The hashtag #futbolnow is inspired because it can be used by pretty much everyone in the Western world, no matter what language they speak. Coca Cola does not have a hashtag in the advert, and although they may seed one elsewhere, it's an opportunity missed.
Finally, music can really make an ad campaign, especially a cover of a well-known song, a fact Pepsi is well aware of in its advert. Song downloads can be heavily associated with an advert or a brand (e.g. John Lewis' Keane cover by Lily Allen) and Pepsi is making sure its campaign can live across as many media as possible.