Corporate Eye

Coca-Cola, polar bears and social responsibility

What unexpected partnership could you develop to support your brand?

Expecting to see a link to the heralded new Coca-Cola Lets Get Together site, I went to their corporate site again today, and was intrigued to see a link to a sub-site about polar bears. This has been live for about a month, according to their press releases.

Polar bears and Coca-Cola?

I don’t immediately see the connection, though apparently polar bears have been part of the Coca-Cola brand for years. I guess I’m not their target market; for me, polar bears mean Fox’s Glacier Mints.

But the idea – and the mini-site itself – is a good one. It’s a collaborative effort, linking together the CSR section of Coca-Cola’s corporate site and the World Wildlife Fund’s site, and is clearly designed to demonstrate that Coca-Cola are concerned about global warming, and are doing their bit to help protect the environment. I particularly enjoyed the wind-noise – it made me check my windows …

Polar bears are very popular with children (is this the link for Coca-Cola? I suppose the connection with ice/ice-cubes helps too), and are a high-profile high-status animal in danger of extinction, so pull at the public heart-strings. The mini-site contains some educational material and e-cards, but is chiefly a vehicle for confirming polar bears as part of the Coca-Cola advertising and of their corporate social responsibility commitments – and is a very clever association with WWF, whose brand has involved polar bears for years. (Also, of course, it plays well with The Golden Compass ice-bears which are currently popular).

Coca-Cola are donating part of their profits from sales of toy polar bears during December 07 to WWF, and ask that visitors to the site also donate to WWF.

This seems to me to be relatively small-scale donation on the part of Coca-Cola (donating a tiny percentage of the profit from each can of coke would result in a far larger sum), but – according to the WWF site – Coca-Cola and WWF are working together to 1) reduce the water used to produce its beverages, 2) recycle water used in manufacturing processes, and 3) replenish water in communities and nature. This will of course have a far larger impact, and is part of a multi-year partnership announced last June.

So: a clever way of bringing together two organisations to the benefit of both. (And, one hopes, to the benefit of polar bears). Question is, which organisation could you work with in this way?

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