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Last month, Weber Shandwick issued a global challenge to employees: Why should you attend the 2013 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity? Our own Ryan Hodgson, Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing Communications, won the challenge and is now reporting live from the conference all week long.

To kick-off our coverage of the event, we’re sharing Ryan’s thoughts from a great panel he attended led by Coca-Cola’s advertising leadership. Be sure to check back again throughout the week as we’ll be sharing our favorite posts from Weber Shandwick’s Cannestastic blog, where you’ll find observations and inspirations from our Weber Shandwick colleagues around the world.

Work that matters

Session: The Coca-Cola Company- #WorkThatMatters (Ivan Pollard & Jonathan Mildenhall)

This was an inspiring session from Coca-Cola which focused on how, through their marketing, the company has invested in their strategy of Social Purpose. In short Coke believes “there’s good in everyone and that coke can bring that out”.

I think we have all seen how Coke has invested in branding campaigns (versus call to action campaigns) over the years, but perhaps we don’t realize how important the role of Social Purpose plays in their campaigns. They have strategically highlighted the values of the company by being on the edge of what is socially acceptable. From casting Mary Alexander, the first African-American woman in their advertising, to campaigns like “Open Happiness” that bring countries like India and Pakistan together, they have led the way, challenging social norms and redefining what’s acceptable in advertising from a cultural perspective. To see the “Open Happiness” campaign, check out the video below. 

[youtube id=”ts_4vOUDImE” align=”center”]

So props to Coca-Cola, but what message were they really trying to convey in this session? Firstly, the company was clearly taking the opportunity to position themselves to a room full of movers and shakers and to that end they did a wonderful job. Secondly they were challenging other brands and those responsible for brand strategy to place importance in Social Purpose as well. But lastly and most importantly they weren’t just creating advertising with Social Purpose, they were creating the Coca-Cola story. One that they’ve been telling for decades. 

To finish up I’d like to highlight one ad that was illustrated that I loved personally. It is the ad where Coca-Cola took a segregation bench, created to keep cultures apart, and they defined culture not by color or race, but by the simple act of drinking Coke. It truly defines their belief that “what unites us is far stronger than what divides us.”

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