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Coca-Cola calls Black and Hispanic consumers the 'core focus' for the future

By David Goetzl
(November 18, 2009)
Coca-Cola's top stateside marketing executive delivered some auspicious words for Univision and BET this week, saying targeting "multicultural" Americans will be paramount for the company over the next decade.

So-called general market networks may also take heart: Coke's efforts to reach moms -- household decision makers -- will continue to include a heavy dose of national TV, even as the marketer diversifies into other media.

In 2008, Coke's U.S. ad spending totaled $752 million, per Ad Age.

Speaking at a company investor event, North America CMO Katie Bayne (pictured) said "multicultural consumers are our core focus" as Coke looks toward 2020. The "multicultural" segment accounts for 33% of North American sales across all brands today -- with the figure expected to reach 40% in 10 years. In addition, 51% of American teens today are "multicultural," auguring new opportunities, Bayne said.

Bayne said Coke no longer cooks up media plans targeting Hispanics around major events, but hopes to reach them all year.

"It is no longer the Hispanic Heritage Month followed by Cinco de Mayo," she said. "We have 12 months of deep connection." Next year, those efforts include World Cup-related promotions targeting Hispanic males and telenovelas for females. Powerade is one brand with resonance among the demo Coke will emphasize.

Marketing programs -- particularly on college campuses and backing Sprite -- aimed at African-Americans are also an emphasis point. The company, which ran a memorable spot in the Super Bowl several years ago, said it was the first time there were two African-American coaches. It may look to extend promotions behind Black History Month into an extended effort that could reach three months.

Among moms, Bayne said TV will continue to be a linchpin of all efforts.

"Television's very important," she said. "Of all the mediums -- yes, she swaps information digitally -- but she spends 4 hours and 14 minutes every day with the TV on."

A focus in 2010 aimed at moms will be around the new Coke "Mini" can, which launches nationwide in the first quarter.

Out-of-home and digital will be critical in the "Mini" debut -- with a digital effort carrying a "90-calorie portion control can -- for the Goldilocks in all of us" tagline.

Also early next year, Coke's Olympic campaign will feature athletes including speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno and snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler. A global TV spot features a snowball fight in the Olympic Village, started by the Swedish team lobbing a projectile at the Canadians. Throughout what becomes a joyous event, a Canadian struggles to get to a Coke machine for refreshment.

Bayne also said the company is taking advantage of the out-of-home's industry's emphasis on digital billboards, where messages can be adjusted on the fly from a central command. A "Coke Digital Network" is using six billboards along freeways and looking toward expansion to other markets.

"No more shipping vinyl," Bayne said. "But literally pressing a button and getting the right message depending on traffic flow, who's going by, and what's going on."

She suggested Coke could soon tout the winning score of a local football team hours after a big victory -- while plugging Coke's link with the NFL.

Before Bayne spoke, Coke's top worldwide marketing executive Joe Tripodi said the company continues to wring savings in marketing. Its agency roster has gone from 82 to 35 -- saving $200 million, which it will invest behind brands worldwide.

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