How Coca-Cola Moves at the Speed of Culture

Is it possible to anticipate changes in culture when it moves at such a rapid pace? This may be the wrong question to ask. Instead of trying to keep pace with culture, why not try to create it? Brand professionals can then seek innovative avenues—whether in the metaverse, Web3, or elsewhere—for the new things they wish to build.

Hear directly from Coca-Cola and VIRTUE Worldwide about: 

  • Creating culture at the end of ‘monoculture’;
  • How Coca-Cola plays with new ideas while remaining true to their brand;
  • How to engage young people as tech transforms youth culture in drastic ways;
  • Avoiding ‘creation by committee’ with small, diverse teams;
  • Picking the right metaverse for your brand;
  • How smaller businesses can take innovative risks within their budgets and parameters.

Inventing the future at the end of monoculture 

The ‘monoculture’—or the broader, mainstream trends and experiences that people share across demographics—has all but disappeared. Instead, we live in a world of seemingly infinite micro-cultures. The way people relate to the world, and to each other, is changing. How does a major brand like Coca-Cola, one which we might associate with said monoculture, evolve and exist in a pixelated world?

According to Oana Vlad and Iain Thomas, two core folks behind Coca-Cola’s ongoing Creations campaign, Coca-Cola has been creating culture since its birth in 1892. In this masterclass, our forward-thinking guests discuss how every business and brand, big or small, has the opportunity to seek their own innovations within emerging spaces—in the metaverse(s), Web3, or wherever else—to connect with customers in a changing world.

“Coca-Cola is a part of history and culture because it has always invented the future. That’s why Andy Warhol painted it. The Creations campaign is just another way where Coca-Cola is playing a part in inventing the future…Every business can be brave. Every business can look at what they’ve done and say, ‘What else can we do? What’s next?’” – Iain Thomas, global head of innovation @ VIRTUE Worldwide

Who this masterclass is for 

Those interested in how changes in technology and culture present opportunities for brands to proactively engage their customers through innovative methods. Heads of strategy and marketing come to mind.

Some salient excerpts 

Flavia Barbat: “With multiple metaverse platforms out there, how do you pick the right metaverse for your brand?”

Iain Thomas: “When we speak about the metaverse, what we’re speaking about is the potential between a bunch of different technologies. So whether that’s NFTs, crypto, new forms of ownership, new forms of organizing, gaming, deep digital experiences, augmented reality, virtual reality, extended reality, or generative artificial intelligence, all of these things kind of play off each other and create different kinds of experiences and different kinds of things. So we look at all of those different things and go, ‘what is the most appropriate thing here? What does innovation look like? Innovation can be putting wheels on a suitcase.’” [22:20]

Flavia Barbat: “How can you maintain brand values and consistency as you make big innovations?”

Oana Vlad: “In the Creations campaign, as we innovate, we’re always keeping in mind Coca-Cola and what is non-negotiably Coca-Cola. You have to define what can be a ground to experiment and flex, versus what is important to maintain at the core and to protect. Then I think it’s key to understand the context that we’re operating in. Do we have the support? Do we have the go ahead? Do we have the context we need to be brave?” [32:30]

Flavia Barbat: “How can we be sure we’re being innovative? And how can a smaller business who is not Coca-Cola do that?”

Iain Thomas: “I know we’re being innovative because it’s scary. Innovation comes from a place of bravery. Otherwise, you’re not pushing the edge. And it will be challenging. But every business can be brave. The amount of bravery that a company like Coca-Cola has to have to go, ‘This is our trademark. This is the most known, loved symbol within marketing in the world, and one of the most known words in the English language. We’re going to change it. We’re going to change the logo. We’re going to make it look like Stardust. We’re going to pixelate it.’

Every business can look at what they’ve done and go, ‘What else could we do? What’s next?’ Within the parameters of your own appetite for risk. I would not say to someone, if you have $100,000, go and spend it all on virtual reality. See what risks you can take and create a routine and a cadence of risk within your business. I believe it’ll pay dividends.” [28:45]

The future begins when we take our first step into it. We hope the insights shared in this masterclass inspire brand leaders to take the first step in creating the future they want to see.


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