Coca-Cola embraces personalization

From the streets of Paris to the markets of Kampala – the iconic red and white Coca-Cola bottles are recognized everywhere. In a bold move, the company now embraces personalization and employs digital printing technology to make it happen.

From the streets of Paris to the markets of Kampala – the iconic red and white Coca-Cola bottles are recognized everywhere. The company spent more than 100 years to build a strong brand around its bottles, cans, colors and logo. In a bold move, the company now embraces personalization and employs HP Indigo digital printing technology to make it happen.

It all started with the “Share a Coke” campaign that launched in Australia in 2011 and has since been run in 80 countries across the world – from China to France to Turkey to the United States. Bottles displayed common first names from Aaron to Zoe on their highly recognizable label.

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The combination of a brand-name look with a personal name was so successful that it reversed a decade-long decline in U.S. Coke consumption. Coke said it might revive the campaign next summer to respond to popular demand. Personalizing the labels hasn’t been without challenges, though. The original idea was to print the names in the traditional “Coca-Cola” Spencerian script, explains Lucie Austin, former director of marketing for Coca-Cola South Pacific, in an interview on Coca-colacompany.com.

“We couldn’t do that due to trademark issues, so we created a brand-new typeface inspired by the ‚Coke‘ logo”, she says. They called it the “You” font because it’s about the consumer, not Coca-Cola. That typeface was highly popular and has since been used across the world in different ways including for a global Coca-Cola Christmas campaign.

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The company also had to figure out how to get the Coke red color exactly right on the HP digital presses it used, which was done with a special production of “Coca-Cola red” spot color and tight collaboration between the company, label converters and HP Indigo.

Now, Coca-Cola takes personalization to the next level. Coca-Cola Israel just created the “Stay Extraordinary” campaign that adorns two million Coke bottles with two million colorful individual designs.

A special algorithm developed by HP Indigo R&D creates the designs autonomously. The designs were created in-house by HP Indigo, and by Gefen Team & Q Digital supported Coca-Cola in this campaign.

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The campaign wants to convey the feeling of uniqueness that diet coke drinkers embody. The distinctively designed bottles were supported with an ad campaign, which featured hundreds of individually designed billboards and merchandise such as T-shirts and caps. While the campaign may not create the same buzz the “Share a Coke” campaign did, it will still attract a lot of attention not only because of its technological inventiveness and creativity but also because of the visually intriguing designs.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Australia is embarking on the next leg of its creative journey. It is producing vibrantly colored mini cans of Coke and Coke Zero to promote its new 250ml size for the Australian summer. The cans for the “Colour your Summer” campaign come in five limited edition colors: blue, lime green, pink, purple and orange.

It is the company’s biggest packaging-based campaign since the Share a Coke-campaign. The campaign aims at younger consumers who associate certain colors with their lifestyle and preferences. The bright colors aim to accentuate different styles and personalities.

One of the main technical challenges was to figure out how to print two different colors on a single line, says Gary Burke, packaging graphics manager, in an article on coca-colajourney.com.au. The challenge was met but because Coca-Cola didn’t want one store to receive all the green and another shop to get all the pink bottles, they decided to manually pack the pallets with different colors.

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