Hilarious scenes at the M&S Simply Food attached to my local BP garage the other evening.
Standing there by the chiller unit, arms full of Coke bottles, burrowing into the farthest reaches of the display in search of the names of PrintWeek team members. That was me.
The search was partially successful, per this pic. Though I have to admit that’s actually Joe with an e.
Anyhow, the manager comes over, most perturbed about what I’m up to. He thinks I’m looking for the coldest bottles and/or just an annoying idiot messing up his stock. I show him the names on the labels and explain that I’m searching for specific names of chums.
A gleam of understanding crosses his face. Next time I go in the names are turned to the front. In fact, I’ve started going into shops and turning the bottles around as a matter of course. Do I need to get out more?
This morning I saw a big poster site advertising this campaign, which seems to be generating a considerable amount of traction. It’s obviously been a massive project for all involved, can only begin to imagine the amount of co-ordination involved.
It’s also thrown up an interesting “note to selves” for anyone plotting cross-media/social-media activities of this ilk, even if not on such a grand scale.
One doesn’t need to read the Daily Mail to know that Mohammed, and variants thereof, is officially one of the most popular boy’s names in the UK.
Yet there is no Mohammed to be found in the fridge or on the special Coca-Cola Facebook page that accompanies the Share a Coke campaign. My mate Moh is going to have to do without.
Why so? A glaring omission, or fear of a backlash akin to the Danish cartoon reprisals?
I had to ask, and here is the official response from Coca-Cola.
“Coca-Cola GB sourced independent data from Experian to identify 150 of the most popular names in the UK. This data reflects both the gender and ethnic makeup of the population.
Out of respect for religious groups or figures, as well as existing cultural sensitivities, where relevant we omitted names where offence may be caused. We liaised with representatives from the Muslim community in the UK, and it was advised not to include the name Mohammed in our campaign.
We’re delighted that so many people have responded positively to the campaign so far, and we’re providing lots of opportunities for everyone to participate. During the summer, we’ll be taking our personalisation machine on tour across the country, so that everyone can have the opportunity to get their name or a loved one’s name printed on a bottle. People can also create and share a virtual personalised Coke with friends online at www.shareacoke.co.uk“
What a complicated old world we live in. But ignore such complexities and potential brand disaster awaits.
Next stop, the “personalisation machine”. Can’t wait to see that.