A Polar Bear Christmas

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3 Things We Can Adopt For Local Advertising From Coca-Cola

If you’re like me – and I get that that’s a bit of a leap – you feel all warm and cuddly when those Coca-Cola commercials with the polar bears come on around this time of the year. In fact, you may even think of Coca-Cola every time you see polar bears in general. I know I do.

What Coca-Cola did works on a national – if not world – level. The polar bears are recognized virtually everywhere!

But as a small, local business, you’re looking for brand recognition in just a small area. Sure, things like polar bears may work where you’re from (of course, you’d obviously have to pick something besides polar bears given the above), but in any event, ideas that may work on a national or world level may not work in a local setting.

So what can we learn from Coca-Cola that we can transpose to your local market?

1. Concept

Concept is obviously a big part of where Coca-Cola went with the polar bear thing. Maybe they realized that polar bears, being a pseudo-endangered species (depending on your time-frame for association), are recognized all over the world for being just that. It’s easy to believe then that nearly everyone will see polar bears in a heart-warming, innocent light. Add Christmas to it and now you’ve just tugged on those heartstrings even more.

But you don’t have the big television advertisement budget Coca-Cola does. That’s okay though, because there’s imagery to take advantage of in your local area that won’t cost you a lot of money. Start using your imagination to find things that already exist in your community – that maybe are a part of a way of life – and develop ways to associate it with your brand and your image. In time, when people see or think of these things in their everyday lives, they may by extension almost immediately think of you.

2. Make Something Up

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It would have been one thing for Coca-Cola to use polar bears in their brand image, but there are many ways they could have done that. For instance, they could have easily just taken footage of polar bears and slapped them into a commercial with some pretty graphics and a nice little bit of music (we’ll get to the music in a bit). But they didn’t. Somebody decided to make them a cartoon, albeit a computer-generated one. I would even argue that the “heartstrings” concept is taken further in doing so – after all, kids love cartoons, so when they see the commercial, and then see the polar bears in the store, they say “look, Mommy!” and immediately you see Coca-Cola. Bingo!

But just like I’ve already said, you don’t have the money to make a computer-generated cartoon. That doesn’t mean you can’t take whatever you’ve found in your community and give it an extra kick. Take that thing you’ve found, and turn it into a talking character, or a mascot. I’m not suggesting dressing some guy in a costume, but I am suggesting using your imagination to come up with creative ways in which you can present this character. Or, if you don’t want this thing to be a talking character at all, what else could you turn it into? Furthermore, how would you portray it in a television commercial?

3. Sing It, Sister!

I know in the Coca-Cola polar bear commercials, the traditional Coca-Cola jingles were not typically used, or they were utilized in a more subdued manner. Nonetheless, there’s no shortage of great Coca-Cola tunes out there (my favorite was “Always Coca-Cola” – it was dancy and poppy).

Given the above, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some kind of a jingle in your commercial. It can be as simple as a few people singing a song a cappella, or you could go full out and actually get a real jingle recorded. The important thing is that whatever you come up with, it’s easy for it to get stuck in your audience’s heads – without being annoying. You’ve heard your friends tell you how they have this song they heard on the radio stuck in their heads and they can’t get it out. You want that to be your jingle.

And it works even better when that jingle somehow relates directly to those things you’ve sorted out in numbers 1 and 2 above.

So this Christmas, when you see those polar bears on television (or, really, when you see any well-branded commercial) think about how those companies went about accomplishing these three things. In fact, try and think about it every time you see one of these ads. Not only might you find yourself surprised by what you discover, but you may even come up with some ideas of your own!

Merry Christmas!

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Photo by Mike Licht via Flickr