Brand crisis can be beneficial later, says Coke

Brand Crisis

Food and drink PR, marketing and advertising has been defined by one concept in 2019. Carlsberg’s rebrand has shown it’s vital to come clean and be honest in the face of a potential brand crisis.

If you’ve had your head buried in the sand and don’t know what we mean, catch up here. If that’s too much effort, let’s summarise. Carlsberg has re-brewed its beer and rethought its positioning in light of changing trends in alcohol (specifically beer) consumption.

Put simply— it’s happy to admit the old recipe was (probably) not the best beer in the world.

Was this really a brand crisis?

Ask anyone at the Danish booze giant and they will quickly tell you this decision wasn’t about averting a brand crisis. But we’d have to disagree.

It’s 2019, and that means the craft beer trend is old news. People have long-since been looking for specialised and often small-batch bottles and pints. The repercussions have been felt by many major breweries, and one look at the social sentiment and sales figures for Carlsberg clarifies the brand really needed to win back favour before things went too far.

The complete rebranding was a pre-emptive defence against a brand crisis that was slowly emerging.

What’s that about Coke?

It’s easy to forget that Coca Cola, one of the world’s strongest brands, experienced its own major brand crisis some 34 years ago. Attempting to introduce New Coke caused a consumer revolt in 1985. The public hoarded old cans and demanded a return to the original taste.

Millions had been spent, but within 79 days the short-lived New dream had died.

Skip forward to today and that huge misfire is something of a boon for the drinks giant. The third season of Netflix’s Stranger Things will launch on 4th July and sets the scene in 1985. To celebrate, and exploit the show’s cult following, Coke is re-releasing New Coke as part of a tie-in, and has this awesome ad to prove it…

The power of nostalgia

The move offers remarkable proof of the power of nostalgia. Much of the appeal around Stranger Things centres on nostalgia— whether borrowed or owned by viewers. As for New Coke, the idea is that people will buy into it simply because it reminds them of the past, even if they hated it back then. Those who weren’t actually born will be drawn in by the idea of tasting something from a past they feel connected to through pop culture.

What both New Coke and Carlsberg’s new brew show us is that problems can actually become powerful weapons in a brand arsenal. It all depends on whether the company is willing to own its mistake— tapping into consumer perspectives— or wants to try and erase it from memory.


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