The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Coke Get Arty-Farty [Emphasis On Farty]
May 18, 2007, 7:05 am
Filed under: Comment

So I saw these pieces of ‘art’ in a cafe in Sydney and to be honest, it made me abit ill.

There’s nothing wrong with them per se [ooooh, look at me!] it’s just that I have a nasty feeling that someone, somewhere [and it better not be you Mike] sold them this concept on the basis that it could extend the ‘footprint of the brand’.

We all know this is a load of bollocks but it’s the sort of bollocks clients LOVE!


Because clients like nothing more than to feel they are oh-so-important in people’s lives – when in the ‘real World’, they are given about as much consideration as a raspy fart.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked to either …

1 Make a brand ‘iconic’

2 Make their [self declared] iconic packaging, the focus of their communication.

It’s ego – pure and simple – and then have the nerve to say ad agencies aren’t responsible with money.

I watched a great program on iconic imagery and this architect said that when you could pencil the outline of an object with a single line and you could immediately recognise it, then – and only then – could you say it was an icon. However, in most cases, this ‘status’ was still dependent on either having been around for a long time or for being rather innovative at the time of creation.

Now by this reckoning, the Coke Bottle IS an iconic shape – however it still begs the question whether that means they should spend copious amounts of cash on producing ‘art’ to hang up in cafes when most of the time, they charge their agencies to achieve specific sales volumes?

Yes … Yes … it probably has some ‘subliminal suggestion’ value but lets face it, the probable reason behind the agency suggesting this idea [if it was them behind it] is not because of effectiveness – but because they know it will ‘tickle the ego’ of the client and as such, build a perceived closer relationship.

The amount of money that is wasted on this sort of ‘client massaging’ is incredible.

I remember years and years ago, we were instructed to create outdoor posters for a particular client because their international MD was flying in and their intention was to buy EVERY BILLBOARD POSSIBLE so that he would feel his brand is making a big impression in the community.

Tens of thousands of dollars wasted to keep an ego in check … amazing … especially when many clients scrimp and save on doing their ‘normal’ communication which is intended to actually motivate people to buy their brand over a competitors.

Of course this whole ‘concept’ may have come from the Coke bottlers rather the ad agency – and as I said, there might be some degree of value in it from a psychological point of view … but underpinning this whole concept is an issue that I believe is fundamental in brand communication today … Corporate Ego.

The moment a brand thinks it is important to society, the moment the brand starts to lose its energy – which is why I love Tesco, because you really feel they are ‘continually fighting for the right to earn some customer loyalty’. 

Other brands should take note because a poxy annual promotion or sale doesn’t actually build [much] loyalty – just short-term sales – and with every man and his dog following a similar strategy, it’s not even doing that as well anymore.

Coke ARE an amazing brand … they just aren’t as good … as loved … as popular … as they think they are – and if you took away their money and distribution power, then you’d see alot of senior COKE board members not looking so smug anymore and certainly not sanctioning the investment into things like ‘paintings’ for cafe’s!

Market share does not always equal brand adoration … remember that next time you are looking at sales data and then go and talk to humans and find out what they really think.

13 Comments so far
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Great post Rob, especially as many clients believe media agencies are more responsible with their money than creative agencies.

I am convinced the problem is too many clients confuse cheap with effective and need to quantify everything to keep their bosses and their bosses bosses happy even though media evaluation is flawed.

Well done for writing this, I just hope you are still alive after Jill has got hold of you to write some more stuff like this.

Comment by Pete

This is the worst kind of urban spam because it’s pretending to be something else – art. What really, really, REALLY, makes me mad is that it’s done badly. It’s BAD art. That’s right, you heard; BAD.

Just look at them. LOOK AT THEM. The bottle so small and helpless in “compositionally” the weakest part of the picture. Those coke “twirls” strolling in out of the picture like a pair of 25 year old socks. And don’t even get me going on colour. The basic lack of SKILL in these paintings leads me to believe that they were “created” (I feel sick) by the favourite nephew of the least popular coke brand manager.

So, if anyone from COKE is reading this please take note. THIS IS NOT ART. And as Rob says, it’s a fucking waste of money and shoddy communications.


If you do want to do this kind of shit, give me a call. I’ll paint you proper paintings (I’ll even observe your ridiculous brand guidelines if you wish). It will just take 4 weeks for each painting. At cost your $25.000 a pop and I will distance myself from my paintings as soon as you’ve bought them.
God, I hate this kind of shit.

Morning 🙂

Just look at them. LOOK AT THEM. The bottle, small and helpless in “compositionally” weakest part of the picture

Comment by Marcus

here here marcus.

Comment by lauren

Is that it … 3 comments on a genuinely serious topic! Please lets have some more – and maybe even keep it ‘on focus’, haha!

Comment by Rob

Great post.
Sometimes these things are useful in terms of staff morale (ie: the staff feel they are working for an important company); but when it is just down to ego boosting its pointless and a waste of time and money.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

That’s a great point Rob as regards staff morale – but too often this is all the company does interms of making people feel they are working for a progressive company rather than focus on elements like training [real training, not some wanky 3 day thing once a year], environment, remuneration and innovation.

Comment by Rob

Sadly yes.
I do remember the Honda ads as being a great example of how good ad and branding work made the staff feel more positive about both the company and products… shame its too often about ego.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I think the reason the HONDA ads were so impactful internally is that it also coincided with a dramatic change in their product look and quality – after years of being in the race, they suddenly were a ‘player’ and the ads enhanced that spirit of hunger.

On a completely different note – MARCUS BROWN IS 36 ON SUNDAY!!!! He might look older but his voice is still that of a 12 year old! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY FRIEND.

Comment by Rob

You’ll have the voice of a 2 year old when Jill’s finished bashing the shit out of your nuts.

Comment by Marcus


Happy Birthday for Sunday Marcus!

Thats true Rob, but I think the ads played a huge part in making employees feel the company spirit and motivations.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Happy Birthday Mr Brown.
I could tell you some stories about a certain sofa retailer,not to mention a Northern Supermarket when it comes to ego stroking. But not in public.

Comment by NP

Happy Birthday Marcus!

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

Thanks everybody. Today is my birthday. And I’m 36. Oh bugger.


Comment by Marcus Brown

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