Coca-Cola: Transforming a toxic brand

February 23, 2016 | Benoit Beaufils

How can you transform a toxic brand into one that is loved even more than before?

In 1999, Belgian school children became sick after consuming Coca-Cola, resulting in 30 million cans and bottles being recalled. Marketing manager at the time, Benoit Beaufils, recalls how ‘people’ saved them.

“The challenge was to prepare for the time where Coke would be back. And to make sure people would welcome it, after it had betrayed them. We needed to think differently, so we brought in new people. Christophe Fauconnier from Censydiam was one of them. With a few others, he offered a different approach to marketing. We used cultural analysis, anthropology and psychology to understand how Belgians related to Coke.
For the first time in my life, I really understood what a brand was. I met people who would drive 200km to go and buy some Coke across the French border for their families. I heard them speak about Coke not as a drink but as something that made time spent with the kids, or time spent with friends, just that little bit better. People loved the brand because it was part of rituals and moments that truly made them happy.
I had learned this: marketing is a people thing. If you forget that your business thrives ‘people to people’, sooner or later, it will crumble.”

Article originally published onĀ 2Degrees