About Me

John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Coca-Cola's One Brand Strategy

These are certainly interesting times for the soft drinks giant Coca-Cola. While ever granular levels of segmentation and customisation are all the rage in many industries, here’s one company that is heading in the opposite direction. Earlier this month, Coca-Cola announced that it was taking its ‘One Brand’ strategy worldwide with its first global campaign in ten years. Essentially what ‘One Brand’ means is that its four product variants, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Life will come under the Coca-Cola master brand rather than being marketed as separate products. Its ten global TV ads that are planned for this year will feature all four variants so gone are the days of separate Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero adverts. The social and experiential themes that have traditionally characterised its advertising will continue with situations such as a first kiss, a first date and ice-skating with friends being featured.



The One Brand strategy is a response to flat sales in the sector caused by concerns relating to the over consumption of sugar. Promoting a zero sugar brand like Coca-Cola Zero addresses this issue but causes problems regarding what the master brand stands for. This way a consistent message is delivered and consumers looking for zero sugar options can choose those variants. The approach was road tested in the UK in 2015 with reasonably promising results. Sales increases were reported for both Coke Zero and Diet Coke. However, the overall picture for the category looks a lot less promising. Concerns over obesity and sugar consumption appear to be driving the sector towards decline. In the three months to the end of September 2015, Coca-Cola’s revenues in Europe were down 7% or $1.3bn. The legendary company may be about to enter a new phase of managing a dying brand!


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Fianna Fail's First Election Mistake


The appearance of this ‘pre-election’ poster generated quite a buzz in the newspaper and broadcast media over the weekend as commentators agonised over whether this marked a new direction in Irish politics and a rise in the type of negative campaigning commonplace in the UK and USA. While the jury is still out on that question, any marketer looking at this poster will be taken aback at just how bad it is. In short, Fianna Fail has just paid some good money to promote their great rivals.

Look at the poster again. Now remember that when it comes to perceiving advertising messages, Kahneman’s fast and slow cognitive processes come into play. In other words, like most of what we do, processing advertising is done primarily on autopilot or through System 1 thinking as Kahneman calls it. We know that posters are processed on average in 1.5 seconds. What are we likely to have perceived in that time? We will certainly have seen Enda and after that possibly the Fine Gael logo. The vast majority of brains will conclude that the poster was another Fine Gael message of some sort before being distracted by the next available stimulus. The subtlety of what Fianna Fail was trying to do will have been well and truly lost on everyone except those who would feel strongly enough about the picture of the Taoiseach to cognitively engage System 2 and actually read the full poster. And unfortunately for them, that is likely to have been a very small proportion of those exposed to the poster. One would suspect that when the election proper gets underway, the same mistake will not be made again!