Coke, Pepsi and Red Bull’s Big Content Marketing Plays

content marketing institute Coca-Cola Content MarketingFor years, soft drink brands have helped set the pace for marketers across the globe. The reasons why shouldn’t surprise you. Today’s leading soft drink brands dominate the universal beverage market.

To help build loyalty, globally known brands like Coke, Pepsi, and Red Bull are keeping pace with content marketing tactics. If you are a regular Content Marketing Institute reader, you’ve probably noticed we’ve kept a close eye on Coca-Cola’s Content 2020manifesto — a strategy that’s earned the brand praise from marketers across the web.

With this week’s unveiling of Coca-Cola Journey, we thought now might be a good time to take a look at how today’s soft drink market leaders put their own spin on content marketing.

The undisputed global king: Coca-Cola

content marketing institute Coca-Cola Content Marketing- Coca-Cola Journey

The marketing team for Sprite famously claimed, “Image is nothing. Thirst is everything.” That ironic tagline wasn’t Coca-Cola’s first contribution to contemporary branding — and it won’t be the last.

On Monday, November 12, Coke launched its most recent foray into the battle of the beverages. Coca-Cola Journey is a reimagined version of an old website — a storytelling machine in online publication format. The new publication features company-specific content across nine categories, including all beverage brands owned by the Coca-Cola Company (like Sprite).

According to the New York Times:

“Four full-time employees are devoted to the corporate Web site, [Ashley] Brown [Coke’s Director for Digital Communications and Social Media] said. And content is also being created by 40 freelance writers and photographers, as well as ‘people throughout the Coke system, in marketing and public relations.’”

Prior to launching Journey, Coke outlined a new global direction for its brand strategy, meant to focus on creating content that tells the company’s story. Coca-Cola Content 2020 is an ambitious new campaign, and Journey represents the brand’s strong first step into becoming a true digital content machine.

(Check out Robert Rose’s interview with Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall, the architect of Content 2020.)

Coca-Cola’s content: What works

The Coca-Cola Company has a deeply entrenched brand. For years, the company’s strategists and marketers have done incredible work defining and representing the brand across the entire enterprise, and Journey benefits from that work.

From related content recommendations to highlighting top performing articles, Coke has laid the framework for a successful brand-centric online publication. The site is a home both for the Coca-Cola story and the channels that tell that story, featuring quick links to the company’s branded blogs and other social media pages.

What to expect on the horizon

While the website debuted with tons of great content, it’s unclear if Journey will have fresh content on the website daily. A big question we hope to see answered before 2013 is whether or not Coke can keep content updated frequently enough to build and maintain an engaged audience.

While the brand journalism approach rings true, it would be nice to see additional engagement elements. Social shares are one thing — but content becomes truly impactful when it asks the reader what he or she can add to the conversation.

Backed by a seasoned marketing team and a strong vision, Journey will likely see its fair share of growing pains. Fortunately, Coca-Cola seems to have the resources and the determination to keep the site evolving as it tests what components work best for its audience.

What we can learn

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Storytelling is the thread that ties your content together. Coca-Cola has a narrative so rich and extensive that it couldn’t possibly capture everything. Old or new, your brand has a narrative thread, too. Consider having a shorter history to be an opportunity to define your own story.

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About the author

R Knight

CEO of 7Day Marketing Inc., a digital marketing company focused on helping purpose-driven entrepreneurs, organizations and businesses build powerful sales funnels, increase visibility and convert prospects into profitable clients.

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