Coca-Cola (2006 and 2016)


Courtesy of Coca-Cola.

From McDonald’s we move to Coca-Cola with one more great sonic strategy and two more sonic logos from two creators Umut Ozaydinli and Joe Belliotti.

The notes for “Open Happiness” first appeared in “Happiness Factory,” a 2006 TV commercial and online film imagining the whimsical, animated world inside a Coca-Cola vending machine. The award-winning spot, which spawned several sequels in the years that followed, came to life through brilliant animation and a cinematic soundscape. “In 2007, as we were developing the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign, we wanted an audio branding device similar to the ones used by McDonald’s and Intel,” explains Nick Felder, Coke’s global director of film and music production. “We went through our existing library of music assets, and it quickly became obvious that the hook we were looking for could be found in the spine of the melody of the ‘Happiness Factory’ score, which was running in every market.” The team distilled the 15-note melody from the film to a five-note mnemonic, then tested it with different instruments and in different keys and tempos. One of the first Coke TV spots to feature the new signature was “Share the Love.” The five notes can be heard punched on a telephone keypad at the end of the 2007 ad. The “Open Happiness” single, which featured Cee-Lo Green, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, and Grammy-nominated songstress Janelle Monae was the first original song to include the melody. The uplifting collaboration was released in 2009, and 24 versions were recorded in different languages and released in more than 30 countries. Since then, the five notes have been featured in literally hundreds of Coca-Cola anthems, including Mark Ronson and Katy B’s “Anywhere in the World,” which anchored the “Move to the Beat campaign” for the London 2012 Olympic Games, One Night Only’s “Can You Feel it Tonight” from 2011, and holiday-themed tracks from 2010 (Train’s “Shake Up Christmas”), 2011 (Natasha Bedingfield’s mutilingual take on the same tune), and 2012 (“Something in the Air”, performed by Grayson Sanders, Lauriana Mae and Jono). The melody provides a full bar of recognizable music that fits easily into most pop time signatures, opening the door to genre-spanning adaptations around the world. The most successful use of the melody, to date, was K’Naan’s “Wavin Flag.” Coke’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa topped the charts in 17 countries and created a festive call to action for football fans to chant and sing during matches. “When the song would play in stadiums, crowds would spontaneously shout the chorus in the form of a cheer,” Felder says. “The first time we realized the song would go viral was when we saw a cell phone video on YouTube of the Brazilian football team psyching themselves up before a match by singing the five-note melody on a stadium concourse in Rio.”1

Several years ago, Coca-Cola made a significant shift in their marketing strategy, announcing that, for the first time ever, all four colas would be marketed under one brand. Building on this success, we rolled out this strategy globally and launched a new creative campaign and tagline, “Taste the Feeling.” Chief Marketing Officer Marcos de Quinto, who unveiled the “one brand” approach, said the strategy extends the equity and iconic appeal of the world’s No. 1 beverage brand to Coca-Cola Light / Diet Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, and Coca-Cola Life. The new approach also underscores our commitment to choice, offering consumers whichever Coca-Cola suits their taste, lifestyle and diet—with or without calories, with or without caffeine. “We are reinforcing that Coca-Cola is for everybody,” de Quinto said. “Coca-Cola is one brand with different variants, all of which share the same values and visual iconography. People want their Coca-Cola in different ways, but whichever one they want, they want a Coca-Cola brand with great taste and refreshment.” “Taste the Feeling” brings to life the idea that drinking a Coca-Cola—any Coca-Cola—is a simple pleasure that makes everyday moments more special. While our award-winning “Open Happiness” campaign leaned heavily on what the brand stands for over the last seven years, “Taste the Feeling” employs universal storytelling with the product at the heart to reflect both the functional and emotional aspects of the Coca-Cola experience. “We’ve found over time that the more we position Coca-Cola as an icon, the smaller we become,” de Quinto said. “The bigness of Coca-Cola resides in the fact that it’s a simple pleasure – so the humbler we are, the bigger we are. We want to help remind people why they love the product as much as they love the brand.” The fully integrated “Taste the Feeling” campaign uses authentic storytelling to celebrate the experience of drinking an ice-cold Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola takes center stage in every piece of what Rodolfo Echeverria, VP of global creative, connections and digital, calls “emotional product communication.” “We’ve gone from ‘Open Happiness’ to exploring the role Coca-Cola plays in happiness,” he added. “We make simple, everyday moments more special.” An international network of agencies developed the “Taste the Feeling” work. Four agencies—Mercado-McCann, Santo, Sra. Rushmore and Ogilvy & Mather—produced an initial round of 10 TV commercials, digital, print, out-of-home, and shopper materials. The “Taste the Feeling” TV ads offer intimate glimpses into universal stories, feelings, and everyday moments people share while enjoying Coca-Cola. At the close of each spot, the family of Coca-Cola products unite under the iconic red Coca-Cola disc. Several alternate versions of the ads were produced with locally relevant casts and culturally relevant vignettes. The campaign kicked off with the lead commercial, “Anthem,” which presents a series of moments linked by a Coca-Cola, such as ice-skating with friends, a first date, a first kiss, and a first love. An original song performed by Conrad Sewell serves as the ad’s soundtrack and “Taste the Feeling” campaign anthem, continuing Coke’s legacy of using iconic music in its advertising. The track includes an audio signature inspired by the sounds of enjoying a Coca-Cola—the pop of the cap, the fizz and, ultimately, refreshment. The pneumonic replaces the five-note melody featured in the “Open Happiness” campaign. Avicii, a longtime Coca-Cola collaborator, played a key role in the development of the “Taste the Feeling” anthem.2


Courtesy of Coca-Cola.

We talked with two former Global Heads of Music at Coca-Cola: Umut Ozaydinli and Joe Belliotti.

Umut is an expert in disruption, branding and entertainment marketing. He has spent the last 20 years combining music, film, technology, and popular culture to create extraordinary global campaigns for international brands and has won several awards for his work. Since the beginning of his career, the Fast Company-christened “wild Turk” has applied his unique branding skills to beverage giant Coca-Cola and myriad other brands, including Bacardi, Nestea, MTV, and Avon. As Coca-Cola’s Global Head of Music and as head of Deviant Ventures, he orchestrated music marketing campaigns for global events, such as the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and UEFA Eurocup. The single that he created for Coca-Cola’s 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign made number one in over 19 countries reaching to 150 countries and delivering 100 million views on YouTube. The single he produced to launch Coca-Cola’s new global campaign “Taste the Feeling” featuring Avicii, is one of the most popular videos on Coke’s YouTube channel with over 22 million views with 50 million streams on Spotify.3

In 2019 Joe co-founded The Music Division, working with established and emerging brands to amplify and extend their strategies through music. Joe was most recently the Head of Global Music at The Coca-Cola Company, where he created global and scalable content, platforms, partnerships, capabilities and strategies for brands across the company’s portfolio. Previously Joe established entertainment marketing firm Brand Asset Group as a leader in providing insight-led strategies, creative ideation and execution of integrated marketing partnerships developed through the lens of entertainment and pop culture for Fortune 500 and celebrity brands. Earlier in his career, Joe worked in talent development at the music publishing arm of Maverick (a Madonna/ Warner Bros. joint venture). He has also been a music supervisor for film & TV projects for Warner Bros TV and ABC.4

Why did Coca-Cola switch from Open Happiness to Taste the Feeling, Umut?

So the issue with the five-note melody was you were not able to sing the tagline. It was very cute. It was very topical, but you can’t. And so if our marketers, our challenge is to increase the awareness for the tagline for next 10 years to come out, at least that was the intention at the time. We should change the tagline in a way that we bring in the tagline in a more sing-able way. Then second, maybe this might be even bigger priority, was one of the objectives of that campaign, specifically, was remind people the intrinsic pleasure of consuming Coca-Cola, intrinsic versus the extrinsic. So that’s where the tagline came from Taste the Feeling, remind people how amazing and how refreshing it is to drink Coca-Cola. Now we, obviously, we’re super-lucky with Coca-Cola because it has a soundscape around the consumption. You open the cap, you hear the bubbles, you hear the ice, you pour it. So, we basically get a lot of inspiration and use from the soundscape that the product consumption had and bake that into our audio melody as organically as possible. I can send you examples of it. When you hear the audio melody, it’s always the cap opening. You here, the fizz and, “Ahh,” it’s almost like, “Oh my God, I really need to have a drink, a Coca-Cola.” I don’t know if you would be familiar, but there is this awards in Europe called Red Dot awards. They are technically industrial design and design awards. And recent years they also introduced audio design as one of the fields, and audio logos is one of the fields. And we actually won a Red Dot award with our audio melody, which when you look into different types of awards, this is probably one of the most rigorous award in the industry because they are not looking into just like, “Oh this is like a very catchy tune.” No, they are looking much more strategically, “Wow, this actually has so much strategy and thinking behind it.” It’s design thinking used to basically address a marketing challenge.5

Joe continued.

You can go back to 1920s when Coke first went on the radio is when you start seeing Coke use music and sound. And it’s funny, the Taste the Feeling, the approach we took, which has the intrinsic sounds of Coke, the bubbles and the ice and the sounds of Coke, that was actually used back in the 1940s and 1950s as well because we were putting out the same messaging into the market. So back into the 1940s and 1950s, the messaging around Coke in the United States was, “Have an ice cold Coke. It’s refreshing.” So they wanted to talk about the product a lot. So they actually used a lot of sounds, especially because radio needs to advertise. So they used a lot of those sounds. Then you got into the 1960s, and in the sixties you there was a campaign called, “Things go better with Coke,” which was the more of a tagline of a lyric tagline that was given to the music industry. And artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Who, massive artists created songs called “Things Go Better with Coke,” and they use that line in all different ways in their music, so that was sort of a really interesting one. In the 1970s, of course there was like, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” which had the song, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” So those two things lived together in the 1970s. In the 1980s you had Always Coca-Cola, which was very, very popular, very memorable jingle. So there’s been a lot of uses of music. And I think when you get into Open Happiness, Open Happiness is one of those sort of, I think, just really defined that era of Coke like those other ones did, I’d like to think, because of the way it was adopted and used the pop culture. On this point, Taste the Feeling was very specific. We had gone back to that very product-centric marketing. We wanted to remind people about the product of Coke. And Coke, when you look at it, you recognize Coke when you see it. You recognize Coke when you hold the bottle. The actual brief to create the contour bottle over a hundred years ago was they wanted a shape that someone could touch in the dark and recognize. So you could recognize Coke when you see it, and you recognize Coke when you taste it. Coke has a very unique taste. The flavor profile of Coke is actually very unique. It’s hard to replicate. And you recognize Coke when you hear it. So we wanted to go back to that, “Let’s make sure people recognize Coke when they hear it.” And when you hear Coke, to Umut’s point earlier, we took the entire journey of if you listen to what is on that video, we took the entire journey from like opening the fridge, grabbing the bottle out of the fridge, taking the bottle. You hear ambient noises because you’re hanging out with people, it’s social. You get the bottle, you pop off the cap, you hear the cap fall, you hear the fizz. You hear the liquid pour over the ice, you hear it crackling. You hear that sort of white noise that the fizz makes. Then you hear the gulp of the drink, and then you hear the, “Ah.” So it’s the entire experience of drinking a Coke that we captured. And then we had to sort of put it into different time lengths to fit different uses. I’ll try to find some videos, but it was definitely something that popped up quite a bit in the 1940s and 1950s.6

Umut continued.

To tell the story of Taste the Feeling, you really have to start from the Open Happiness because it’s a journey over, perhaps, a span of 15 years or so. What Joe explained in terms of the story is actually the precursor of Open Happiness. At the time when we launched Open Happiness, which was a very different campaign than the previous campaign, which was received magnificently well, and that was exactly when I joined the global team at Coca Cola. We had this update meeting with the CEO of the Coca Cola at the time to tell how great we are doing as marketers on this campaign. We had all the TV spots, and this is basically the campaign which introduced the Happiness Factory, the iconic Happiness Factory. And there was so many amazing commercials in the portfolio with that campaign, including a TV spot with Jack White, et cetera. So it was very interesting. The CEO listened to the presentation and said like, “Guys, apologies, you guys as marketers are telling me this is the best campaign of all times. But if you look at historically all of the Coca Cola campaigns, you can hum the campaign. I can’t hum this campaign. There is no melody associated with it.” And it was then that we basically get the charge from the CEO, and we looked back and said, “Oh, you know what? He’s right. All of the iconic Coca-Cola campaigns over the existence is associated with a melody that you can’t forget, like “Always Coca-Cola,” it’s part of my childhood.” It’s impossible. I might forget all the TV spots that I had seen around Always Coca-Cola, but I will not forget that melody. I won’t remember one TV spot with that campaign, but I will remember that melody. And as marketers, at that point we realized, “Oh, yeah, we have to have a melody. That’s basically what will make the campaign more memorable and remember it.” And as marketeers, when you’re working at a brand iconic as Coca-Cola is, spending billions of dollars of marketing, so it’s not what you’re doing today, but will it be remembered in the history of the brand as well? So we started the journey. Here’s the thing, TV spots, technically speaking, are an annoyance. People do not connect with the TV spot, but music is something, or melodies is something that’s so ingrained in our hearts in our mind. It’s something that allows us to connect with either the message or the brand. So I think that goes all under the same umbrella. It basically is a very effective way to create affinity and get people to connect with the campaign. So once we get the mandate from the CEO, we started the search, like every other company would do, “Okay let’s bring some music houses. Let’s basically start bringing some demos in and stuff like that.” But also one thing we realized at the time, one of our TV spots was charting, getting scores off the charts, which was Happiness Factory. And at the time at least, and I’m sure they change it a million times, when you look at the score of a TV spot you’ll basically break it down to different elements. What it’s like, why it’s like. And one of the things on that TV spot, on the first Happiness Factory TV spot was the melody. People just loved the melody. It was obviously very lovable characters on the screen as well, but people really loved the melody. So we basically, after doing a long journey with the film and production department of Coca-Cola at the time, we come to the conclusion, the best melody we had in our hand was the melody that we already started using with the Happiness Factory because it’s also one of these things when you’re introducing a melody like this one, especially in an international scale, it’s not always easy to get buy-in from international markets. And now we have this TV spot that everyone is wanting and it was scoring everywhere so well we said, “Okay, it just makes sense. Let’s basically convert the five notes melody that is in use in this TV spot to our audio signature.” Now because it was more of a tactical move, perhaps a reaction, no one really talked about, “Oh, can you sing the Coca-Cola brand melody? Or can you add a message or tagline, something like that with it?” It was much more reactionary versus strategic, but it worked out because it was such a catchy tune. And we basically managed to develop and build it throughout the years in a very effective way. Well, once again, I’m going back to the same story. One of the things at the time, basically when the time came for us to launch the melody, we basically wanted to make it famous. We were working with the second installation of Happiness Factory when we were ready to launch. How can you make a melody famous? We said,

Okay, what if we bring few artists that already is in pop culture that our audience love. We create a song that is almost extension of the campaign, but it is an actual song, almost like a single. If we use this as a launch platform to launch the melody, it probably will be better than just launching with the TV spot.

So in conjunction with that, we did a single that featured Ceelo Green, Janell Monae, Fallout Boy, Panic at the Disco, Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, and actually that is the origin story of Joe Belliotti and Umut got started this is the first project we actually collaborated. And we always make this mind trick with people, Joe was the agency at that time, and I was the client. I was basically head of music partnerships at the time at Coca-Cola, and we basically did this, and it was supersuccessful. We were in charts all around the world with this melody. So it’s progression of the same, basically, success. So, basically, we launched this, it was very good. Then the following year we had World Cup, and everyone turned to us and asked us, “Okay, World Cup is coming. It’s our biggest campaign yet to come. You guys did a great job with launching the new audio logo in form of a single. Can you guys do something for the World Cup campaign that basically will bring it even further?” And we basically couldn’t stop thinking, “Oh my God, like this is actually a very good chance because you can, it’s very tractable.” So we then followed and did another song for the next campaign coming in for the World Cup, which was still part of the same campaign, so you don’t need to change the audio logo. And we did another song that basically it called for celebration, which, basically, our hope was will be chanted at the stadiums, which, it’s rare case in marketing you start with a vision and you actually realize it. It happened. So next probably eight years or so was basically, “Oh, my god, this is basically a great way for us to launch campaigns and make people happy.”7

Joe continued.

Well, I will say, before you skip eight years ahead, I think it’s worth mentioning on Waving Flag, the reality is that was one of 40 things that were created for that campaign for marketing assets. 40 is not the accurate number, but probably 40 from digital assets to mobile to visuals to experiences, tons of content. It’s the biggest campaign Coke had ever done, so there was a lot of marketing assets, and the music got no more attention than anything else. It was one of 40. And the reason it became one of the most used by Coca-Cola during the time, and the reason it became a number one song around the world, was because people gravitated it toward the music. We didn’t put any media around the song itself except it was in a few commercials. It wasn’t like we pushed the song into the market. It was really people gravitated toward it, which was amazing because they liked the song. But it was also, from a marketing perspective, it was an amazing value because we got so much out of it for relatively small investment when you think about traditional marketing.8

So thinking back, what does Joe remember most about the creation of Taste the Feeling?

So creating the Taste the Feeling audio logo, we actually had one talent that did everything, that played every instrument, was every sound. And it was great working with this talent because it always showed up on time, and it was the Coke bottle. We really took every single sound in that audio signature, was generated from the Coke bottle. And we didn’t use it as an instrument. It’s not like we were banging on it and trying to recreate drums. We were really just trying to take the sounds that the bottle and drinking a Coca-Cola make, from grabbing it to the fridge, to pouring it over the ice, to the fizz, to the refreshment. So everything was generated by the bottle. So, basically, it was an exercise of recording the bottle, doing what it does.9

Of all the logos it’s probably the only sonic logo that the product itself actually created. Does Umut think that why it was so powerful?

I wouldn’t say it is the only one because Coke had a big heritage of using intrinsic sounds in radio spots in different times and period. But what I would say, Taste the Feeling is probably one that we put much more strategy and intention on every aspect of it, from the melody allowing us to be able to sing the tagline, to basically bringing the strategic priority of the campaign, which was reminding people intrinsic pleasure and taste of drinking Coca-Cola using audio and all types of elements to bring it to life. Probably Coca-Cola, when you look in their existence, they use different elements, different times of the different campaigns. But probably we used it with much more intention and strategy because we had a very specific brief, remind people the simple pleasure of drinking Coca-Cola. And what is better to remind? Use an audio soundscape that everyone already familiar from their childhood, from their youth, opening the bottle, hearing the fizz, listening it pouring into the glass at the first sip, which is always the best sip.10

Joe agreed.

I think that’s key, Umut, is that the sounds we use were actually very, very familiar. We all recognize them, just like we recognize the logo, we recognize the bottle shape. We recognize the sounds, and I think what we did is just put them together in a musical format.11

That is Coca-Cola’s DNA, right Umut? Coca-Cola traditionally likes to create new sounds as opposed to getting a favorite artist at the time, or the sort of replicating something that they had done before, right?

I don’t really think you can pick one pattern in the existence of a brand that is 130-plus years old because I think each different period that existed in history, they approach it very differently. Coca-Cola actually is one of the brands, probably the brand introduced what is called music endorsements to its first form and shape with engaging a bar hall singer. Joe will tell you the story a little bit better than I can do. Joe, do you want to tell them? When you look at Coca-Cola, a brand like Coca-Cola, they everything. Well, one point in time they did printed music and stuff like that. So I don’t think we can say we are the first to basically use either the sound elements or some sort of catchy tune in a combination. But what I can say is, both Joe and I love history a lot. And when you are basically working with an iconic brand like Coca-Cola, one of the first things they do is they send you to the basement, which is one of the biggest corporate archives in the world. And you see how, basically, the same story has been told over years. So what I think we did is we had the luxury to pick and choose what we loved the best, what we felt people connected the most. And we brought it all together as organically as we can. It was not just the tagline sing-able, the soundscape used. We also engage up-and-coming talent to basically sing the parts. Now our bet was that gentlemen would be the next Bruno Mars, which in Australia he absolutely is, but he didn’t break internationally as big as we want him to be. But we basically used so many different elements and tactics, it was a fun project for us to collaborate. And I think probably with between me and Joe, it marked our 10 years of collaborations when we did the Taste the Feeling. So it was almost like we were a very well-rehearsed team that basically know both sides of the story. And we, basically, had a great time digesting all of the learnings that Coca-Cola had over 130-plus years, and basically bringing what makes sense in today’s world.12

Does Belliotti think sonic logos are even more important today with smart speakers and limited attention spans?

Well, I like to say, if people recognize your brand when they see it, are they going to recognize it when they hear it? Because people, the audiences are spending over 40 hours a week listening, whether it’s music or podcasts or audio books or voice devices. When we start shopping on voice devices, that changes the entire dynamic of how people connect with the brand. You’re getting into a year 2020 where half of all searches on Google will be voice searches. So what that means is that all the beautiful iconography, the packaging, the logos that were done, they don’t translate into an audio environment. So I think audio sonic identities, more comprehensive approaches to sonic identities are a must for brands today.13

Umut agreed.

I couldn’t agree more. Look, audio is going to emerge as the next interface in next five years, 10 years. We already have all my lights in the house is basically voice comment. When I want to hear the news, I’m asking to hear the news. So what’s going to happen is our screen time will start going down because audio is much more intuitive. I’m not needing to look into my phone to give a command or read the news. I’m asking my Google assistant or Alexa to tell me. Then there’s going to be commercials in between those. But it is one thing showing like a new car on a banner ad or a TV like a pre roll. It’s another thing reminding a brand using audio to people and what that brand represents to you. Like BMW, for example, has certain brand elements that you would never hear it on audio or see it on the audio unless some intelligent marketer thought about it and say, “You know what? We are modern. We are this year that. We need to bring audio clues together in a way that when someone hears this audio or sound or whatever, that is what the emotion is awoke about my brand.” And I think the next stage off audio branding is similar to what we have done. It’s not just a catchy tune. There are so many bad catchy tunes like glorified jingles out there. But does that make you feel something about the brand? Yep. If you say Liberty, Liberty, Liberty Mutual, 10 times people will remember that was your ad. Great, you check one of the boxes. But I would argue, as marketers, our job is to build relationships, emotional relationship with our audiences. And I think what the marketer will need to do more and more is find effective ways to articulate what the brand stands for more efficiently than audio, is one aspect of it, audio logos and audio melodies. We started introducing audio style guidelines five, six years ago together with Joe in our time at Coca-Cola, which was like people didn’t initially understand why would we need a style guide for melody? Well, because there are increasing different ways your brand will need to interact with the audience. And the way you have a design style guideline to tell you what not to do next to each color or how to draw that box or logo, you need that for audio as well because you’re talking about the high end of the smart speakers. But your brand will still need to exist in gazillion different way places, either TV spots, radio spots, in-store if you have a smart device, and which we are going to see more and more a switch that might have an audio cue adapt to it. That was a long way to say it, but I agree with Joe.14


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