Coca-Cola and the Concept of Localization

Jun 16, 2010   //   by Michael   //   Articles, Blog  //  Comments Off on Coca-Cola and the Concept of Localization

By Michael Tanenbaum

Coca-ColaI am married to an Argentinean woman who, like me, is a pop culture child of the ’80s. We occasionally exercise our nostalgia for old American and Argentinean TV commercials by rummaging through YouTube. This morning we re-discovered two fantastic Coca-Cola commercials, “I am the future of the world” from 1986 and “Coke is for Everyone” from 2002. What is remarkable is the strong part that localization plays in Coke’s brand advertising strategy. They consistently demonstrate the ability to speak in a unique and credible voice to individual nations and cultures.

Watch the reel for “I am the future of the world”:

This video reel contains the British, Argentinean, Colombian and Peruvian versions of the same commercial, which they likely localized to many other countries as well. The melody and theme are the same in each, but the lyrics are modified to each country’s colloquialisms. The song title was localized for the Argentinean version: they say “mañana” instead of “futuro”. The kids playing the main character are dressed differently in each, to correspond to each nation and culture. The scenes are also staged slightly differently, while the Peruvian version is especially localized. Watch these ads a couple times to get a feel for what is going on.

The “Coke is for Everyone” ads are from 2002. This reel, from countries as diverse as the USA, Thailand and Norway, is fascinating in another way: How Coke speaks to the individuals and subcultures within each culture:

Using the same concept and imagery across all the ads, each clever and humorous use of Coke is slightly tailored to the local idiosyncrasies of the respective culture. For instance, two bottle caps symbolize a pair of lips giving a kiss, which is unique in each ad. Or two bottles interacting in a suggestive way in the European ads but more discreetly in the Thai ad.

Coca-Cola is a master at this sort of brand advertising. And YouTube is a fantastic and powerful tool to discover and research the successes of other companies and organizations when it comes to localization.

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