Coca Cola representatives @ivanpollard @mildenhall did an excellent job presenting the history of the #workthatmatters campaign. As a person very familiar with the Coca Cola brand I was less familiar with the #workthatmatters campaign. They have made it a priority to get involved in important social, civil, and world issues over the years.
#workthatmatter Began with Mary in 1955
#Workthatmatters began in 1955 with the hiring of one person – the new face of Coca Cola – Mary Alexander. Ms. Alexander is the first African-American woman to be casted in Coca Cola advertising; which was a bold move for the brand considering the country’s racial climate. It is important to note that when this ad was published the murder of Emmet Till and the Rosa Parks protest were highly covered news stories that White and Black Americans had conflicting views.
By Coca Cola portraying Mary Alexander as a woman with a family, it made her appear more “normal” and more “American”. They wanted Americans to see each other for the “content of their character”, not the color of their skin.
This ad was just the first of many ads that Coca Cola would create as part of their #workthatmatters campaign.
“The Bench” is an ad that in todays world is completely innocent and does not appear to be provocative. During the time that this ad was created, segregation was still a thing of the present. We see the children sitting on not just any bench, but a segregation bench…touching each other and drinking Coca-Cola. This ad is calling for unity among the races and almost demanding that racism be put to an end.
Just after the Detroit race riots, and after Dr. King was assasinated, Coca Cola created “Straddle Boarders”.
This ad called for world harmony as America was ending its involvement in the Vietnam War. It was a time for cultures around the country to begin learning from one another rather than trying to kill one another.
Coca Cola Challenges Racial Prejudice
During the 1970’s racism was still a big problem in American soceity. Coca Cola created the famous “Here Kid” commercial, featuring Mean Joe Green, to illustrate that the African American male is not someone to fear just because of his skin color.
Coca Cola Defies Gender Stereotypes
In 1994 when Coca Cola aired an ad that featured a half-naked man drinking a diet coke, it was one of the first times a man had been objectified in the media.
This classic ad turned the tables on objectivity and made it appropriate for men and women. Some may argue, that this was the beginning of “sex sales advertising” as many ads that followed from other brands were filled with sexual imagery.
This commercial is called “Diet Coke Break”
Coca Cola is Stubbornly Optimistic
In 2007 when the media was starting to connect violence in the streets to violent video games, Coca-Cola created a commercial using the character from Grand Theft Auto (a popular and violent video game) to show the world that video games are not the enemy and they can be pleasant.
Coca Cola Promotes Real World Stories
As social purpose becomes an increasing mandate Coca Cola starts doing things for real people, real people that matter. It’s not just about the storytelling, it’s about the brand behavior. They have to engage with people in real life, if they are to continue producing #workthatmatters.
“Brands must be and do before they have a right to say.” @ivanpollard