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Coca-Cola’s Mildenhall: we’ll leverage content but won’t enter media game

Social & Digital

Coca-Cola’s Mildenhall: we’ll leverage content but won’t enter media game


Coca-Cola is open to leveraging its content for shared value deals but has not plans to enter the media game like competitor Red Bull, its content strategist has revealed.

Speaking to Marketing after presenting the beverage company’s content philosophy at Circus Festival of Commercial Creativity, vice president of global advertising strategy and content excellence, Jonathan Mildenhall says the films, TV shows and other content the business creates would be leveraged to partners such as media owners.

“We’re in the business of beverages,” Mildenhall says. “However, if we can develop outstanding content that media owners see as a way to attract other advertisers then of course we’d be interested in creating a shared value deal where we’re giving them the content and they’re giving us media.

“We’re building capabilities and understanding on how to leverage compelling content to different partners like media owners, but right now I don’t anticipate ever declaring a Coca-Cola media company in the way that Red Bull have done.”

While a move into media may not be in Coca-Cola’s foreseeable future, the success Red Bull has enjoyed displays the potential for leveraging brand as a media revenue stream. Red Bull Media House – a multi-platform media company offering a range of sport, culture, and lifestyle content across TV, mobile, digital, audio and print – is believed to earn the company more than its beverage division.

Coca-Cola has been a vocal advocate of the shift from traditional advertising to content marketing. The brand’s ‘Content 2020′ strategy, which Mildenhall presented to delegates at Circus on Tuesday morning, is to “move from creative excellence to content excellence” – a strategy which will see them rely less on traditional ad agencies for creative ideas, in favour of a collaborative approach to storytelling and content creation.

A self-proclaimed ‘diagonal thinker’, Mildenhall spoke about the need for marketers to excel at both creativity and analytics – a need that’s becoming increasingly important as teams get smaller and timelines get shorter.

“Everyone is resource constrained,” Mildenhall says. “As teams get smaller and timelines get shorter, the ability to have individuals that create teams that can do diagonal thinking is going to be increasingly important.

But the boom in analytical thinking doesn’t necessarily stifle creativity thinking, according to Mildenhall, who doesn’t see the two as mutually exclusive. The key is to know when to think and when to feel. “My job and my team’s job is to make sure we manage the relationship between ‘think’ marketing and ‘feel’ marketing as strategically as possible. If we overthink something, we’re going to be dead in the water and if we over-feel something we may miss an opportunity.”

When it comes to the consumer, creativity is the most important skill, but from a total system perspective Mildenhall ranks them as equal in importance. “From a consumer perspective, I want consumers to feel our brands – I want consumers to emotionally engage in our brands. But the system needs to make sure the packaging, price point, distribution, promotion is right – all of that kind of stuff which is the think stuff. The worst thing for us would be to create an emotional desire for our brands and then consumers go and look for them and can’t find them or they’re wrongly priced or in the wrong pack.”

“Creativity is the responsibility of everybody, not just the remit of a few people,” Mildenhall concluded. “Likewise, mathematics is the responsibility of everybody, not just the remit of a few. When everybody can understand their rhythm of both then you get strong teams and strong businesses.”



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