The
AMA definition of marketing is the activity, set of
institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging
offerings that have value for customers and society at large (Hartline,2008;7).
The marketing communication that will be analysed in this essay is the
commercial from brand Coca Cola. The brand consists of several key concepts
that have been successfully applied. Coca Cola uses several persuasion
techniques in its ‘Taste the Feeling” advertisement such as use of emotions,
liking e.g. physical attractiveness, simple wording and its brand name. These
work separately in order to urge consumers to buy and while some have been done
very effectively e.g. especially in comparison to its rivals Pepsi, others can
be improved. This essay will analyse the several persuasive techniques used in
the Coca Cola commercial.

 

The most important
aspect of Coca Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” commercial consists of its brand and
product. Specific phrases such as “Taste the Feeling” aims to emphasise the
unique taste of Coca Cola, linking it to a completely unnatural and unique
feeling. Emotions can be defined as a
strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with
others (Hansen,2007;82). Emotion is used as a
persuasion tool in its advertisement as it is utilised within marketing
communication to appeal directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs and
aspirations. Emotional branding is successful when it triggers an emotional
response in the consumer, that is, a desire for the advertised brand (or
product) that cannot fully be rationalised (Hansen,2007;84). This has a significant impact when
the consumer experiences a strong and lasting attachment to the brand
comparable to a feeling of bonding, companionship or love. According to Ekman (2007;12), emotions are basic in the
sense that they are so distinct that people from different cultures recognise
them naturally. This further suggests that these emotions are not learned yet
built in from our genetic heritage. Therefore, brands that effectively provoke
consumers in a personal dialogue on their needs and persuasive feelings could
win in the battle of saturated markets. Emotional branding strategy has
therefore played an important role as the new concept of building loyal
relationship and creating love and respect for the brand with customers by
triggering emotional touch in the mind of consumer.  Kahneman’s ‘Thinking fast and Thinking slow’
(2011;140) is based on dual processing ideas and highlights that otherwise
identical stimuli can have different meanings depending on how information is
processed. If individuals experience
emotions with greater magnitude of intensity when exposed to an emotion-laden
stimulus, they should also favour emotional appeals more. This study adopted an
important individual trait called “Affect Intensity” that refers to individual
differences in the strength with which people experience their emotions,
regardless of the valence of these emotions (Larsen and Diener,
1987;803). People with high affect intensity, compared to those who
have low affect intensity, may consistently experience their emotions with
greater strength when exposed to emotionally provocative stimuli. High
intensity individuals may also be more easily persuaded by emotionally charged
advertising appeals than are low intensity individuals. In marketing and
psychology, dual process models have been used to explain different behaviour
including preferences and consumption choices. Emotions are an effective
advertising instrument, because they influence people’s expectations and
satisfaction with the product. Often, these expectations then lead to the
experience of these emotions and self-fulfilling prophecy; Process by which
ones’ expectations eventually lead the behaviour that confirms these
expectations.

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To be more
specific to Coca Cola, emotion lets consumers make buying decisions based on
how they feel about the company brand. For instance, Coca Cola is successful in
creating a sense of belonging within customers tied in with emotional campaigns
such as “Share a Coke”, “Open Happiness” and “Taste the Feeling” (Ind,2016;37).
Visual images within the ‘Taste the Feeling’ commercial combine the key phrases
such as ‘friends’ and ‘feelings’. This shows great success with its marketing
campaign with Coca Cola beating rivals Pepsi with 42% of the soft drinks market
share to Pepsi’s 30% (Ind,2016;39). This could be the result of Pepsi’s failed
campaign, where its emotional persuasion failed and caused backlash. The advert
was widely criticised for appearing to trivialise demonstrations aimed at
tackling social justice causes, suggesting that protestors and police would get
along better if the former were kinder and being insensitive with regard to the
Black Lives Matter movement. Pepsi was trying to use emotional marketing to
reach their target demographic but unlike Coca Cola, executed it in all the
wrong ways. Despite this, its persuasive features can be enhanced as Coca Cola
admits 30% of its ads aren’t as effective as they would like. In its consumer
research, it was revealed that the long and unclear shots were a decisive
factor (Jewler,2014;16). Therefore,
shorter clips of people sipping Coca-Cola can resonate more strongly with
consumers. Clear shots of characters’ faces can also drive emotional
engagement, while darker shots disrupted emotion. Additionally, from a
marketing perspective, we want to use associations that people put in trusting,
open and enthusiastic moods e.g. music. People express themselves with clothing
and music (Woodward, 2014;265), therefore marketers tap into consumers need for
self-expression. Emotional ads can make use of the need for self-expression
through music that ignites these emotions. This can be a viable strategy when
the product really has no competitive advantage over other products. Music
contributes to advertising in a number of ways. The first being as simple
entertainment, as music is a good way to gain attention of the audience and
attract interest (Woodward, 2014;266). Music also helps structure the message
as It provides continuity by tying together the visual images of friendship and
happiness within the Coca Cola ad. This can result in making a product or brand
name easier to remember as it increases familiarity and recognition. Hearing a
specific song or tone of a song triggers emotions and this enhances a feeling
or mood in a natural way to target audiences. For Coca Cola, its music has
ignited emotions allows customers to express their personalities e.g. Coca Cola
has music which contain the lyrics “nothing can ever bring you down”, to relate
to its commercial about its product which is based upon positivity and
friendship.

 

Another important aspect of Coca Cola’s persuasion in its
commercial is through brand and company emphasis. If a brand or company has a
good image, marketers emphasise the name in their marketing campaigns.
Established brands usually try to build long-lasting consumer relationships
that are built on trust. Brands try to have consumers associate positive
feelings with their brand name, logo (Armstrong, 2010;116). Seeing a brand, you
like is like seeing an old mate and Coca Cola emphasises its brand name as its
repeatedly used on its bottle in the marketing communications. This is further
emphasised with Coca Cola’s ‘one brand’ approach. As seen in the marketing
communication, Coca Cola advertises all three of its distinct brand under the
umbrella of Coca Cola, in order to benefit from widespread appeal and the
already established Coca Cola brand name and logo. Coca Cola shares a brand
image of creating intimacy with its consumers by evoking memories and
experiences with the brand and invites people to create their positive reality
and to aid that creation, Coke is the happiness in the bottle (Ind,2016;37).
This is why Coca Cola includes a persuasion technique of happy people within
its marketing commercials. This, together with the use of a crowd of friends
within its commercial is further persuasive tools utilised by Coca Cola. We
often do what the crowd does, the wisdom of crowds is a powerful shortcut that
leads to favourable outcomes most of the time, for example, following social
conventions by asking how are you. The wisdom of crowds incurs the main
response of “everyone else is doing it” (Armstrong, 2010;68). Seeing long lines
outside stores shows quality inside and in this instance, the several happy
people shows how nice Coca Cola products taste. Similarly, uncertainty is also
one of the conditions under which social proof becomes particularly important.
When we do not know what the right course of action is, we look to others to
define the situation for us e.g. contemplating buying a can of Coke, then when
a friend does, you do too (Armstrong, 2010;51). In Coca Cola’s marketing, they
have given the impression to a target audience that everyone in their group
e.g. those they identify with (friends and family) and aspire to be like, likes
a particular product, therefore, so should you. This is through modeled
behaviour as per Bandura’s investigations, showing people from groups happily
using a product, make these people act and appear as close to the target
audience as possible combined with the ‘deference (respect) to authority’
signals, we can also model aspirational groups using our products (1986;6). Cialdini
supports this, stating that “We view a behaviour as correct in a given
situation to the degree that we see others performing it (2007;116). In the
Coca Cola ‘Taste the Feeling commercial’, the visual images of friendship all
enjoying a Coke has therefore proved a vital persuasive tool for Coca Cola.
This can also relate to the ‘word of mouth’ technique of persuasion whereby an
individual associated convinces you the product tastes nice and is worthy of
purchasing and reduces uncertainty. In many ways, this is also demonstrated
within Coca Cola’s marketing communication campaign.

 

The use of
increasing ones’ liking is a vital persuasive concept within Coca Cola’s
marketing communication commercial. There are several ways to increase liking
that Coca Cola utilises. The first includes physical attractiveness e.g. the
Halo effect. Coca Cola utilises good-looking people as they are considered more
intelligent, nicer, talented, more trustworthy and honest. In the commercial,
this gets attention straight away e.g. good-looking people sharing intimate
moments. Customers react to physical attractiveness automatically and
intuitively e.g. eye tracking demonstrations showing automatic eye movements,
physical attractiveness stereotype on the phone (Armstrong, 2010;226).
Attractiveness affects persuasion positively regardless of whether the
presenter and receiver are of the same or opposite sex, and regardless whether
receivers are characterised by low or high product involvement
(Praxmarer,2011;839). Advertisers have long accepted the idea that “beauty
sells” and have utilised attractive celebrity endorsers, spokespeople, and
role models in their advertisements. Empirical studies bear out this
phenomenon, showing that physical attractiveness of a person shown in an ad
increases advertiser believability, willingness to purchase, attitude towards
the product, and actual purchase (Kamins,1990;4). Similarity is also used as a
persuasive tool in Coca Cola’s marketing campaign.  Society likes people who are similar to
ourselves, regarding opinion, personality, traits, backgrounds or lifestyles e.g.
Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, creating brand representatives and spokespersons that
target an audience considered similar to them e.g. accent, language, interests.
The
tendency to compare oneself with some other specific person decreases with
others who are divergent from themselves (Festinger, 1954;117). Similarly,
Heider (1958;12) suggested that an implicit association is formed between
people who perceive that they may share common attributes leads to the
formation of what Heider called a “unit relationship” and, consequently, to a
sense of liking. Furthermore, the liking that results from this similarity
could increase willingness to comply with a request (Garner,2005;230).
Therefore, In the Coca Cola campaign, this is seen
with many of its target customers being very similar to the people within its
adverts. Clothing is also interlinked with this persuasive concept and can
further aid inducement.  Just like
titles, clothes can be worn to make an impression as we often equate good
clothes with success, power and authority. Coca Cola believes that the clothes
will connect back to the brand, thereby reflecting the company’s values of
“authenticity, genuineness and being part of people’s lives”
(Ind,2016;36). This attention from consumers leads to provocation to the point
of wanting to purchase.

 

On the other hand,
there are more simplistic yet very persuasive text techniques within Coca
Cola’s marketing communication. The first is clarity for example, often people
do not understand the messages in marketing campaigns e.g. only 46% understood
the message in Schmittlein and Morrison (1987;24). Coca Cola portrays its
messages in a short and clear manner such as “Taste the Feeling”, “Open
Happiness’ and “Coca Cola with feelings”. But it is not only messages that might
get misunderstood, it is the images that have to be related with them. For Coca
Cola, this is clearly demonstrated through its messages of “stories with fire’
with background imagery of a library symbolising this connection as well as
“fire with Coca Cola” with imagery of cooking on a stove. This leads the
consumers to have clear clarity and understanding of what Coca Cola is trying
to convey. However, Coca Cola’s rivals have lacked in this field of persuasion
emphasising how important this is within marketing communication. Pepsi
underwent a misunderstood marketing campaign when it entered the Chinese
market, with the translation of their slogan ‘Pepsi brings you back to life’,
was more literal in Chinese, meaning ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the
grave’ (Zweifel,2013;19). This portrays how lack of clarity within messages can
violate standards. Coca Cola benefits from simple, short and clear wording and
this leads to strong arguments because simple writing can improve recall and
brand attitude. Furthermore, positivity is also key as negative words are often
avoided in commercial advertisements e.g. 84% in headlines and 89% in texts in
print ads analysed by Armstrong, (2010;185). People should associate positive
feelings with products/services e.g. Pro-life v Pro-choice, caffeine free v
contains no caffeine. Coca Cola clearly utilises this by repeatedly using the
words “friends” and “happiness”. Coca Cola also uses wordplay and metaphors in
order to increase attention, processing of the message, and recall. Metaphors
are used quite often in advertising (86% in Mick, 1992;411). Metaphors can be
fundamental to persuasion as Gibbs points out that much of our language and
cognition is metaphorically structures and that there is considerable evidence
showing that a metaphor can significantly change attitudes and perspectives
e.g. “Taste the feeling” (Mick, 1992;412). Coca Cola’s commercial is targeted
at linking its brand image of creating memories with friends and positive
feelings through its drinks, therefore uses the metaphor of “taste the
feeling”, telling viewers that they will feel the emotions of friendship and
happiness when drinking its products. Coca-Cola has consequently ensured that
the campaign slogan should be something that is very catchy and easy to recall
such that the call should action should immediately come to mind when the
customer purchases the brand. Moreover, Informative colours are used in
marketing campaigns to add information, recall, and emotions. Coca Cola
utilises the famous red colour in its logos,
which interprets to power, excitement, energy and passion. This is also used as
a recall, as whenever consumers see a red can, they automatically believe it is
Coca Cola and vice versa when thinking of Coca Cola, they think of a red can.
As Coca Cola seemingly owned the red colour, in 1994, its number one competitor
Pepsi decided it also had to reap the benefits from owning a colour, therefore
adopted the colour blue determining that consumers view it as modern, cool and
exciting (Jewler,2014;30). These are simpler, yet vital components of
persuasion within marketing campaigns.

 

To
conclude, there are several persuasive techniques that Coca Cola clearly
utilises in order to encourage consumers to purchase its products. Emotions is
the first concept used with clear evidence such as the dual-processing model,
emphasising how emotions can lead to consumer buying. Coca Cola use this method
through phrases such as “feelings and friends”, combined with music use and
visual images. Although, shorter clips can improve these persuasions further.
Brand emphasis also plays key to persuasiveness of Coca Cola largely due to its
positive brand image well known for positive feelings, friendship and life.
Several other factors such as liking through physical attractiveness, use of
metaphors and simple wording, are also used by Coca Cola to persuade consumers
in its marketing communication advertisement. Overall,
Coca Cola has been very successful in its commercial because of the elements of
persuasion that has resulted in the advert being one of the best of 2016.