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“隐姓埋名”——可口可乐营销新策略 Marketing a Drink, but Never by Name



  Commercials for Coca-Cola are sometimes so shrouded by storytelling that viewers can make a game of brand-spotting. The game—let’s call it “Spot the Coke Can”—takes a particularly long time during the cinematic spots in movie theaters.

  In the global advertising campaign called Open Happiness that was introduced in January, the Coca Cola Company takes the game to a logical last step by 1)omitting any reference to the brand in a 2)catchy song it created and sold last winter.

  With the title Open Happiness, the song is an advertisement by association.

  Coca-Cola signed a crew of well-known band members and performers to record the single. It also produced several different language versions for other countries.
  为了录制这支广告单曲,可口可乐公司与不少知名的乐队成员及艺人签约; 公司还为其在不同国家的市场制作了几种不同的语言版本。

  On Thursday morning, the song will take another promotional step forward when 3)MTV is expected to show the 4)premiere of the music video for Open Happiness. Coca-Cola said it did not pay MTV for the showing.

  As is the case with the song, viewers of the video will be hard-pressed to spot the Coca-Cola brand. The Coke reference “is so super-fast that you really have to be looking for it,” said a Coke spokesman.

  Umut Ozaydinli, the global music marketing manager for the Coca-Cola Company, said the 5)upbeat song pulled consumers into the Open Happiness campaign, rather than pushing it on them like traditional advertising.

  “Coca-Cola is such a strong and magical brand that we can come out with something with no branding or very little branding,” he said in a telephone interview from Turkey on Wednesday, where the company plans to release a Turkish-language version of the song. “All the communications we are doing around the song enable consumers to connect the song with the brand.”

  While Coca-Cola has produced songs in the past—before the Summer Olympics in Beijing last year, the company released eight song remixes by DJs — Open Happiness stands out because the company is charging for the single on 6)iTunes and Amazon.com. The musical strategy may remind some of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, the 7)jingle-turned-pop-hit that was first featured as a part of Coca-Cola’s classic 1971 commercial known as Hilltop. In the commercial, young people sang about wanting to “buy the world a Coke.”

  “I think they have been looking for something that has that kind of impact,” said John Rudolph, the chief executive of 8)Bug Music, which licenses songs for commercial uses.

  Music is, of course, an important part of many advertisers’ messages. Last year, for instance, the R&B singer 9)Chris Brown released a hit song, Forever, that doubled as a jingle for the 10)Doublemint brand of gum. The song even incorporated the product’s slogan, “double your pleasure, double your fun,” into the lyrics.

  Mr. Rudolph noted that few companies are able to afford the production of an original song that doesn’t even mention the brand. But if any company can, it’s Coca-Cola.

  For Open Happiness, the company collaborated with 11)Atlantic Records and signed many artists, like 12)Brendon Urie of 13)Panic at the Disco, 14)Travis McCoy of 15)Gym Class Heroes, and 16)Janelle Monae and so on. Ms. Monae, a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, said it “was promoting a good cause,” happiness, that all people could agree on.

  Being able to work with fellow artists and “write the words and lyrics that we like without feeling like the company was saying, ‘Sing about Coca-Cola,’ it made it more true to my core values,” she said.

  The lyrics for the Open Happiness song are as sweet and 17)bubbly as the soft drink. “C’mon and lift me up, it’s a brand new day, open up a lil’ happiness today, so I can be someone new,” goes the chorus. The single was released in the United States in March. Tying the music video to the Coke commercials for the campaign is the same 18)five-note melody.

  Mr. Ozaydinli speculated that the lack of an in-your-face Coke message is “one of the key reasons” consumers have shown interest in the song. On 19)MySpace, it has been streamed more than 600,000 times.

  According to Coca-Cola, the single reached the No. 1 spot on the top 100 music download chart of Baidu.com, a leading Chinese web site.

  But it has not found as many fans in the United States: it reached No. 37 on Apple iTunes pop chart for a short period of time, the company said, and no longer appears on the iTunes lists.

  Mr. Ozaydinli acknowledged that the song did not perform as well in the United States, but said that “chart success is only one element of the equation.” Coca-Cola said it would consider producing future songs for the Open Happiness campaign in the coming months. A half-French, half-English-language version of the tune will be released in time for the Winter Olympics in 20)Vancouver next year.