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Coke's Wendy Clark on sharing, authenticity, and why speed trumps perfection

Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown
Clark: 'If you do nothing else with your marketing, be authentic.'
Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark opened the ’13 Sports Marketing Symposium by telling attendees that if their marketing ideas can’t be turned into hashtags, that means they are probably too complicated. Clark, Coke’s Senior VP/Global Sparkling Brand Center, used her featured address to highlight the company’s marketing campaign around the ’14 FIFA World Cup, including “5 Learnings” of sponsorship activation. Naturally, each one was turned into a hashtag. The first point: #AuthenticityRules, which Clark related to the creation of Coke’s “The World’s Cup” campaign. She said, “If football is everyone’s game, and Brazil is everyone’s country and football’s home, and Coca-Cola is the most ubiquitous brand in the world – everyone’s drink – then shouldn’t the Cup in fact be everyone’s Cup? And isn’t it, in fact, ‘The World’s Cup,’ not the World Cup?” The next two lessons were #BeShareworthy and EmbraceYour #NewSalesForce. Clark said it is not about the initial audience you reach, but about giving that initial audience “the currency of the conversation to share and pass along.” Clark then played Coca-Cola’s anthem for the World Cup, featuring Brazil-born singer David Correy and titled “The World Is Ours,” which she said racked up half a million views on YouTube in a matter of days. Clark said that Coke has the largest brand fan page on Facebook, and noted that, for fans, becoming a part of a community is optional, and that, once they join, your fans want to carry your message.
FASTER IS BETTER: Given how quickly information is shared today, Clark said that #SpeedTrumpsPerfection, but that “you have to be contextually relevant. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if it misses the context.” She cited the company’s “Trophy Tour,” which is using a Twitter handle to share experiences from the Cup’s trek across 89 countries. The last of the “5 Learnings”: #BeAmbitious. Clark played another promotional video and said, “We are ambitious for the growth and success of our company and we make no apologies for that, but at the same time we are ambitious to create a goodness and an impact with the work that we do as a company.”

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