Coke’s Content Plan To Dominate Popular Culture by 2020

by Tod Maffin, Publisher,

Recently, Coke was so bold, they shared their marketing plan with the world on how they will own a disproportionate share of the conversations of popular culture by the year 2020.  The mastermind behind this new direction is Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence at Coca-Cola.

The videos below are a profound look into the future of digital marketing.  It will not be about the creative twist or angle or brilliant call to action to move you to buy a product.  Soon, to succeed companies must think like inventors willing to invest in the cost of generating great content (blog posts, white papers, eBooks, videos, marketing campaigns).  It’s the willingness for your CEO to create an R&D department in your company just for content creation.  See 70/20/10 below.  Think about Shakespeare’s masterpieces.  They are inventions that came about after a heavy intellectual investment in “R&D like” practices and systems to create those works.  To become relevant in the ever increasing noise of sales pitches and reused copy online, companies who adopt Coke’s goal to produce compelling content will succeed.

Key Takeaways

Future In Coke’s Eyes – Become Dynamic Storytellers

Dynamic storytelling is the process of identifying incremental elements of the brand’s core story and then dispersing those elements systematically/consistently across multiple channels of conversation for purpose of creating a unified brand experience.  Your core story is the essence of what made you, including the ups and downs, the ugly and pretty.  It’s not a sales pitch.  It’s something all your employees can tell easily and is not memorized.  It’s a unifying cry to all and a story new hires want to be part of unless you are a losy brand/company run by a selfish boss who is out to take and not serve.  In that case, don’t read any further.  You are doomed.

Five Types Of Dynamic Storytelling

  1. Serial storytelling
  2. Multi-faceted storytelling
  3. Spreadable storytelling
  4. Immersion and discovery storytelling
  5. Engagement through storytelling

Keys To Success To Win The Content Wars

  1. Behave like a ruthless editor to stop noise from getting through.  Don’t extend conversations on your Facebook page that leave your core brand story.  Let your tribe carry it forward but be focused.  Every day, there is more and more noise online.  Put a “Brita” filter on your content faucet.
  2. Build system wide capabilities as in new processes, people, compensation plans, and technology to allow for dynamic storytelling.

Evolution From Content To “Liquid Content”

What is content – Coke holds a higher standard when defining content.  They see it as stories expressed through every possible connection and channel that (1) add value and (2) add significance to people’s lives.  Content is the “matter” or “substance” of brand engagement and conversation.

What is liquid – elements of content that move freely amongst themselves but do not become separate stories.

The 70/20/10 Liquid Content Investment Principle

Pay special attention around 3:30 into the second video and pause and take notes for you to fully understand this principle.  It is a primary key to their vision over the next 10 years.

 70% of your content and investment of time and money – Low risk content

  • Should take less than 50% of our time to produce these blog posts, stories, testimonials, campaigns…  This pays the bills and gets the word out.

20% of content – this is where we innovate from what worked from the 70%.  What took hold there we carry forward to this area.

  • Engages more deeply with a specific audience
  • We should invest 25% of our time and resources here but with higher paid writers and creative types.
  • This content still has the ability for broad scale and appeal.

10% of content – brand new ideas. Becomes next year’s 70% and 20%.  This is high risk – this goes viral over night or fails as quickly.  This is where you spend your R&D budget in content.  The invention of great content is just that, an invention of something new to the world that you develop.  You need to be investing in your future stories.  This is where that is done. This is where a lot of A/B testing can happen.

  • This should take up 25% of our time and resources.

Paradigm Shifts To Consider

  1. Going from design excellence to CONTENT excellence.
  2. Move from one-way storytelling to dynamic story telling.
  3. You need to produce sharable ideas/stories/concepts that earn a disproportionate share of popular culture (Own a Topic).
  4. Constant iterations of your content, not replication of your production content.
  5. Stop thinking in 30 second commercial bites and elevator pitches and website home pages.  Think in story and evolving conversations.
  6. Don’t stop campaigns too early.  Keep the conversation fueled and going.
  7. Pre-testing and approving content before campaigns begin can kill the campaign in this new world of evolving stories on and offline of a brand.
  8. Plan your budgets (pad them a bit to be ready) that initiatives will evolve as they are being rolled out and allow for real-time testing during campaign so you can adapt as needed
  9. Think in forms of tent poles (quickly setup shop like the Circus city to city) and tent pegs (hold the tent “core story” in place).



Branded Community, Food/Beverage, Viral Marketing, Word of Mouth