TheAMA definition of marketing is the activity, set ofinstitutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchangingofferings that have value for customers and society at large (Hartline,2008;7).The marketing communication that will be analysed in this essay is thecommercial from brand Coca Cola.
The brand consists of several key conceptsthat have been successfully applied. Coca Cola uses several persuasiontechniques in its ‘Taste the Feeling” advertisement such as use of emotions,liking e.g. physical attractiveness, simple wording and its brand name. Thesework separately in order to urge consumers to buy and while some have been donevery effectively e.g.
especially in comparison to its rivals Pepsi, others canbe improved. This essay will analyse the several persuasive techniques used inthe Coca Cola commercial. The most importantaspect of Coca Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” commercial consists of its brand andproduct. Specific phrases such as “Taste the Feeling” aims to emphasise theunique taste of Coca Cola, linking it to a completely unnatural and uniquefeeling. Emotions can be defined as astrong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships withothers (Hansen,2007;82). Emotion is used as apersuasion tool in its advertisement as it is utilised within marketingcommunication to appeal directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs andaspirations. Emotional branding is successful when it triggers an emotionalresponse in the consumer, that is, a desire for the advertised brand (orproduct) that cannot fully be rationalised (Hansen,2007;84). This has a significant impact whenthe consumer experiences a strong and lasting attachment to the brandcomparable to a feeling of bonding, companionship or love.
According to Ekman (2007;12), emotions are basic in thesense that they are so distinct that people from different cultures recognisethem naturally. This further suggests that these emotions are not learned yetbuilt in from our genetic heritage. Therefore, brands that effectively provokeconsumers in a personal dialogue on their needs and persuasive feelings couldwin in the battle of saturated markets.
Emotional branding strategy hastherefore played an important role as the new concept of building loyalrelationship and creating love and respect for the brand with customers bytriggering 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 otherwiseidentical stimuli can have different meanings depending on how information isprocessed. If individuals experienceemotions with greater magnitude of intensity when exposed to an emotion-ladenstimulus, they should also favour emotional appeals more. This study adopted animportant individual trait called “Affect Intensity” that refers to individualdifferences 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 whohave low affect intensity, may consistently experience their emotions withgreater strength when exposed to emotionally provocative stimuli. Highintensity individuals may also be more easily persuaded by emotionally chargedadvertising appeals than are low intensity individuals. In marketing andpsychology, dual process models have been used to explain different behaviourincluding preferences and consumption choices. Emotions are an effectiveadvertising instrument, because they influence people’s expectations andsatisfaction with the product.
Often, these expectations then lead to theexperience of these emotions and self-fulfilling prophecy; Process by whichones’ expectations eventually lead the behaviour that confirms theseexpectations. To be morespecific to Coca Cola, emotion lets consumers make buying decisions based onhow they feel about the company brand. For instance, Coca Cola is successful increating a sense of belonging within customers tied in with emotional campaignssuch as “Share a Coke”, “Open Happiness” and “Taste the Feeling” (Ind,2016;37).Visual images within the ‘Taste the Feeling’ commercial combine the key phrasessuch as ‘friends’ and ‘feelings’. This shows great success with its marketingcampaign with Coca Cola beating rivals Pepsi with 42% of the soft drinks marketshare to Pepsi’s 30% (Ind,2016;39). This could be the result of Pepsi’s failedcampaign, where its emotional persuasion failed and caused backlash.
The advertwas widely criticised for appearing to trivialise demonstrations aimed attackling social justice causes, suggesting that protestors and police would getalong better if the former were kinder and being insensitive with regard to theBlack Lives Matter movement. Pepsi was trying to use emotional marketing toreach their target demographic but unlike Coca Cola, executed it in all thewrong ways. Despite this, its persuasive features can be enhanced as Coca Colaadmits 30% of its ads aren’t as effective as they would like. In its consumerresearch, it was revealed that the long and unclear shots were a decisivefactor (Jewler,2014;16). Therefore,shorter clips of people sipping Coca-Cola can resonate more strongly withconsumers. Clear shots of characters’ faces can also drive emotionalengagement, while darker shots disrupted emotion. Additionally, from amarketing perspective, we want to use associations that people put in trusting,open and enthusiastic moods e.g.
music. People express themselves with clothingand music (Woodward, 2014;265), therefore marketers tap into consumers need forself-expression. Emotional ads can make use of the need for self-expressionthrough music that ignites these emotions. This can be a viable strategy whenthe product really has no competitive advantage over other products.
Musiccontributes to advertising in a number of ways. The first being as simpleentertainment, as music is a good way to gain attention of the audience andattract interest (Woodward, 2014;266). Music also helps structure the messageas It provides continuity by tying together the visual images of friendship andhappiness within the Coca Cola ad. This can result in making a product or brandname easier to remember as it increases familiarity and recognition.
Hearing aspecific song or tone of a song triggers emotions and this enhances a feelingor mood in a natural way to target audiences. For Coca Cola, its music hasignited emotions allows customers to express their personalities e.g. Coca Colahas music which contain the lyrics “nothing can ever bring you down”, to relateto its commercial about its product which is based upon positivity andfriendship.
Another important aspect of Coca Cola’s persuasion in itscommercial is through brand and company emphasis. If a brand or company has agood image, marketers emphasise the name in their marketing campaigns.Established brands usually try to build long-lasting consumer relationshipsthat are built on trust. Brands try to have consumers associate positivefeelings with their brand name, logo (Armstrong, 2010;116). Seeing a brand, youlike is like seeing an old mate and Coca Cola emphasises its brand name as itsrepeatedly used on its bottle in the marketing communications. This is furtheremphasised with Coca Cola’s ‘one brand’ approach. As seen in the marketingcommunication, Coca Cola advertises all three of its distinct brand under theumbrella of Coca Cola, in order to benefit from widespread appeal and thealready established Coca Cola brand name and logo. Coca Cola shares a brandimage of creating intimacy with its consumers by evoking memories andexperiences with the brand and invites people to create their positive realityand 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 withinits marketing commercials. This, together with the use of a crowd of friendswithin its commercial is further persuasive tools utilised by Coca Cola. Weoften do what the crowd does, the wisdom of crowds is a powerful shortcut thatleads to favourable outcomes most of the time, for example, following socialconventions by asking how are you. The wisdom of crowds incurs the mainresponse of “everyone else is doing it” (Armstrong, 2010;68). Seeing long linesoutside stores shows quality inside and in this instance, the several happypeople shows how nice Coca Cola products taste. Similarly, uncertainty is alsoone 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 todefine the situation for us e.
g. contemplating buying a can of Coke, then whena friend does, you do too (Armstrong, 2010;51). In Coca Cola’s marketing, theyhave given the impression to a target audience that everyone in their groupe.g. those they identify with (friends and family) and aspire to be like, likesa particular product, therefore, so should you. This is through modeledbehaviour as per Bandura’s investigations, showing people from groups happilyusing a product, make these people act and appear as close to the targetaudience as possible combined with the ‘deference (respect) to authority’signals, we can also model aspirational groups using our products (1986;6). Cialdinisupports this, stating that “We view a behaviour as correct in a givensituation to the degree that we see others performing it (2007;116). In theCoca Cola ‘Taste the Feeling commercial’, the visual images of friendship allenjoying 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 anindividual associated convinces you the product tastes nice and is worthy ofpurchasing and reduces uncertainty. In many ways, this is also demonstratedwithin Coca Cola’s marketing communication campaign. The use ofincreasing ones’ liking is a vital persuasive concept within Coca Cola’smarketing communication commercial.
There are several ways to increase likingthat Coca Cola utilises. The first includes physical attractiveness e.g.
theHalo effect. Coca Cola utilises good-looking people as they are considered moreintelligent, nicer, talented, more trustworthy and honest. In the commercial,this gets attention straight away e.g.
good-looking people sharing intimatemoments. Customers react to physical attractiveness automatically andintuitively 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 thepresenter and receiver are of the same or opposite sex, and regardless whetherreceivers are characterised by low or high product involvement(Praxmarer,2011;839). Advertisers have long accepted the idea that “beautysells” and have utilised attractive celebrity endorsers, spokespeople, androle models in their advertisements. Empirical studies bear out thisphenomenon, showing that physical attractiveness of a person shown in an adincreases advertiser believability, willingness to purchase, attitude towardsthe product, and actual purchase (Kamins,1990;4).
Similarity is also used as apersuasive tool in Coca Cola’s marketing campaign. Society likes people who are similar toourselves, regarding opinion, personality, traits, backgrounds or lifestyles e.g.Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, creating brand representatives and spokespersons thattarget an audience considered similar to them e.g.
accent, language, interests.Thetendency to compare oneself with some other specific person decreases withothers who are divergent from themselves (Festinger, 1954;117). Similarly,Heider (1958;12) suggested that an implicit association is formed betweenpeople who perceive that they may share common attributes leads to theformation of what Heider called a “unit relationship” and, consequently, to asense of liking. Furthermore, the liking that results from this similaritycould increase willingness to comply with a request (Garner,2005;230).Therefore, In the Coca Cola campaign, this is seenwith many of its target customers being very similar to the people within itsadverts.
Clothing is also interlinked with this persuasive concept and canfurther aid inducement. Just liketitles, clothes can be worn to make an impression as we often equate goodclothes with success, power and authority. Coca Cola believes that the clotheswill 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 pointof wanting to purchase. On the other hand,there are more simplistic yet very persuasive text techniques within CocaCola’s marketing communication.
The first is clarity for example, often peopledo not understand the messages in marketing campaigns e.g. only 46% understoodthe message in Schmittlein and Morrison (1987;24).
Coca Cola portrays itsmessages in a short and clear manner such as “Taste the Feeling”, “OpenHappiness’ and “Coca Cola with feelings”. But it is not only messages that mightget misunderstood, it is the images that have to be related with them. For CocaCola, 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 theconsumers to have clear clarity and understanding of what Coca Cola is tryingto convey. However, Coca Cola’s rivals have lacked in this field of persuasionemphasising how important this is within marketing communication. Pepsiunderwent a misunderstood marketing campaign when it entered the Chinesemarket, with the translation of their slogan ‘Pepsi brings you back to life’,was more literal in Chinese, meaning ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from thegrave’ (Zweifel,2013;19).
This portrays how lack of clarity within messages canviolate standards. Coca Cola benefits from simple, short and clear wording andthis leads to strong arguments because simple writing can improve recall andbrand attitude. Furthermore, positivity is also key as negative words are oftenavoided in commercial advertisements e.g. 84% in headlines and 89% in texts inprint ads analysed by Armstrong, (2010;185). People should associate positivefeelings with products/services e.
g. Pro-life v Pro-choice, caffeine free vcontains no caffeine. Coca Cola clearly utilises this by repeatedly using thewords “friends” and “happiness”. Coca Cola also uses wordplay and metaphors inorder to increase attention, processing of the message, and recall. Metaphorsare used quite often in advertising (86% in Mick, 1992;411). Metaphors can befundamental to persuasion as Gibbs points out that much of our language andcognition is metaphorically structures and that there is considerable evidenceshowing that a metaphor can significantly change attitudes and perspectivese.g. “Taste the feeling” (Mick, 1992;412).
Coca Cola’s commercial is targetedat linking its brand image of creating memories with friends and positivefeelings through its drinks, therefore uses the metaphor of “taste thefeeling”, telling viewers that they will feel the emotions of friendship andhappiness when drinking its products. Coca-Cola has consequently ensured thatthe campaign slogan should be something that is very catchy and easy to recallsuch that the call should action should immediately come to mind when thecustomer purchases the brand. Moreover, Informative colours are used inmarketing campaigns to add information, recall, and emotions. Coca Colautilises the famous red colour in its logos,which interprets to power, excitement, energy and passion. This is also used asa recall, as whenever consumers see a red can, they automatically believe it isCoca 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 competitorPepsi decided it also had to reap the benefits from owning a colour, thereforeadopted the colour blue determining that consumers view it as modern, cool andexciting (Jewler,2014;30). These are simpler, yet vital components ofpersuasion within marketing campaigns. Toconclude, there are several persuasive techniques that Coca Cola clearlyutilises in order to encourage consumers to purchase its products. Emotions isthe first concept used with clear evidence such as the dual-processing model,emphasising how emotions can lead to consumer buying. Coca Cola use this methodthrough phrases such as “feelings and friends”, combined with music use andvisual images.
Although, shorter clips can improve these persuasions further.Brand emphasis also plays key to persuasiveness of Coca Cola largely due to itspositive brand image well known for positive feelings, friendship and life.Several other factors such as liking through physical attractiveness, use ofmetaphors and simple wording, are also used by Coca Cola to persuade consumersin its marketing communication advertisement. Overall,Coca Cola has been very successful in its commercial because of the elements ofpersuasion that has resulted in the advert being one of the best of 2016.