Coca-Cola rethinking its marketing plans amid pandemic

Soft drink behemoth Coca-Cola has been taking a hard look at how to shift its marketing while much of the world is on lockdown. In April, the company decided to pull back on marketing significantly, noting the “limited effectiveness to broad-based brand marketing” during a global pandemic. Cutting ad spend did not mitigate the 25% quarterly sales drop Coca-Cola suffered in Q2, however, as closures of bars, restaurants, movie theaters and sporting venues was just too much to overcome. Long-time rival PepsiCo also saw its beverage revenues dip, but sales of snacks from Frito Lay offset the decline.

With the coronavirus outbreak forcing marketing executives across industries to carefully consider how to adapt, Coca-Cola said it intends to take this time to reinvent its advertising with a “refreshed marketing approach.” John Murphy, CFO at Coca-Cola, commented, “There’s… an opportunity to use this time to rethink the amount of investment our markets need to run at an optimum level going forward.”

With many people spending more time in front of the television, there’s clearly an opportunity for the Coke brand to maintain an active presence with viewers. According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Coke drinkers watch about 10 hours of cable and network TV each week, which is an extra hour compared to people who don’t buy any soda. Additionally, Coke drinkers tend to be more ad tolerant than non-soda drinkers. Among people watching on Smart TVs, 54% of Coke buyers skip ads whenever possible, compared to 60% of non-soda buyers. Similarly, 30% of Coke buyers are okay with short ads (5-15 seconds) compared to just 20% of non-soda buyers.

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