In the last post I was talking about PEPSI’s strategy. Let’s discover how Coca-Cola is using music as a strategic branding tool!

According to a music research made by Coca-Cola in 2008, 77% of 16 to 24 years old globally list music as their number one passion point.

Knowing that, the beverage giant has also focused on music strategy in order to build emotional ties with customers and engaging with them.

Despite both companies have always been similar in their “fun and young” personalities, they have chosen two different ways of communication. While Pepsi has always tried to target young audience (many of their ads were historically targeted at teens and pre-teens), Coca-Cola has been constantly gravitating towards the emotional side of branding.

By the mid 1900s, Coca-Cola started using music in TV commercials, producing their own singles as the iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” and “Always Coca-Cola”.

“I’d like to buy the world a Coke” 

“Always Coca-Cola” 

By 2009 Coca-Cola launches its new global “Open Happiness” slogan. Instead of relying solely on traditional TV or radio advertising, the brand starts working with musicians and collaborating with recording artists.

The brand creates its own song entitled “Open Happiness” and asked well-known artists (i.e. Gnarls Barkley and Panic at the disco!) from around the world to record their own versions.

Trying to move a bit further Coca-Cola released the remixes as an exclusive digital download and soon songs were passed to digital and social networks, reaching the youthful target audience around the globe. The song became so popular that soon Leehom Wang’s version reached number 1 on the Chinese charts.

“Open Happiness” by Leehom Wang 

Strategic Partnerships

Since 1900s music has been an important part of Coca-Cola’s DNA but during the last fifteen years it has become a major part of its core branding.

Coca-Cola has moved from a traditional sponsorship strategy to real partnership in music. Here some good examples of it:

1. David Guetta and Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola creates a new limited edition bottle together with David Guetta.

The collaboration features a limited edition bottle with a luminescent twist (that allows it glow in the dark) which is available only in selected ‘trendiest’ clubs and Monoprix stores across France since February 2012 until the end of 2012. The bottle was unveiled on January 28, at the NRJ Music Awards ceremony in Cannes.

The DJ and the soft drinks giant partnership started in 2011, when Guetta and Burn (the energy drink distributed by The Coca-Cola Company) created the “Nothings but the beat’s documentary” featuring life behind the scenes videos from his concerts.

David Guetta and Burn have also launched a reality show “The Burn Studios Residency Program” in which they are giving the opportunity to unknown DJ’s to be hired as Resident DJ of some of the best clubs in Ibiza.

2. Spotify and Coca-Cola

Last 18th of April, 2012 Spotify and Coca-Cola partnered to give consumers around the world unprecedented access to the music. The partnership expects to help fans discover new music, connect with other music lovers around the world and seamlessly share their experiences with friends both online and offline.

As Joe Belliotti, Director of Global Entertainment Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company said: “At Coca-Cola we have long recognized the power of music to connect people around the world. As we step up our activation through Coca-Cola Music, we are excited by the innovative music technology platform created by Spotify and the opportunity to create a truly global music network. The potential for this partnership is limitless.”

3. Coca-Cola and Music Dealers

Both companies partnered in March 2011. Music Dealers is as global music solutions company that pairs up independent artist with clients in the advertising, television, film and gaming industries.

Such collaboration will allow Coke to cut through layers involved in licensing music. It will also give direct access to new music in order to reach teen consumers and substantially increase the servings of its beverages by 2020.

Coca-Cola Music

Coca-Cola aims to become an established music brand, and wants to compete against companies such iTunes, MySpace and YouTube. Recent partnership with artists and successful companies within the music industry should help Coke to build a new business division.

Will this collaborations of well knows brands and their interest towards music solve the music industry’s current problems? Would brands replace record labels at some point?

As we have seen music is a highly effective communication vehicle and brands as Pepsi and Coca-Cola are implementing it as part of their marketing strategy.

Even though both beverage companies are constantly competing for gaining market share, they have settle a kind of win-win strategy.  See some examples of their TV campaigns:


“Little Boy” 

So, what do you guys think about Pepsi and Coke’s music strategies?

Monica Manubens

Sources/Further readings:


PEPSI knows it! Since first partnership with Michael Jackson, back in 1983, PepsiCo, Inc. has launched several campaigns using music as a storyline or music artist who have helped the company building its brand’s identity and personality.

Here’s an example of pioneer commercial campaign (1980s)


A brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key stakeholders: customers, staff, partners, investors… Others may say a brand is more than that: confidence, passion, belonging, action, security or a set of unique values.

We tend to think of branding as a modern day phenomenon; undoubtedly branding has evolved over the late 1990s and early 2000s, but certain studies argue that branding started even before (around 1800s) when companies that sold patented medicines and tobacco realized the importance of their product’s association with a brand.

History provides some insight and perspective on modern day branding, and curiously have dated the branding phenomenon and first evidence of advertising even to ancient Babylonian civilization back in 3,000 BC!

Coming back to PEPSI’s strategy, a recent deal with the late King of Pop’s estate will allow the brand to use the music legend’s image for a new global marketing campaing. In order to amplify the company’s strong ties with popular culture and win market share from its main competitor (Coca-Cola Co), Pepsi will release a series of new TV ads, will launch an special-edition can with the artist’s image and will give the chance of downloading remixes of Michael’s most famous songs by scanning codes that will be placed on the new cans. Going a bit further, the company is also considering other ways of attracting the customer and will give away tickets to Cirque du Soleil shows along with special leather jackets inspired by the artist genuine style as a reward.

Music is everywhere and Pepsi has created another campaign called Live for Now pushing another strategic partnership with Nicki Minaj

During 2012 spring, Pepsi also joined The X Factor and embarked on The Pepsi Flavor Audition Tour, giving contestants and fans at more than 20 locations in 15 cities, the exclusive opportunity to sample four new Pepsi flavors and be the judge of which one earned the right to be called Pepsi X.

Eric Whitehouse, director of marketing for Pepsi has mentioned:

Our partnership with ‘The X Factor’ has given us the opportunity to further engage with our passionate consumers, and continue the Pepsi legacy of supporting aspiring musical talent With Pepsi X, we put fans in the judge’s seat — giving them the power to select our next limited-edition flavor — the Pepsi with ‘The X Factor.'”

Allowing consumers to be part of the product experience is also crucial, and with such Flavor Auditions Pepsi is getting even closer to the society.

Monica Manubens