A young man roots around inside a fridge at a roadside kiosk, pushing aside Coke cans, searching for just the right one. Each can is labelled with a name: Mai, Hamada, Zizo, Maryouma, Nour, Walaa, Mayada. Where’s his?
As part of its latest promotional campaign, “Share a Coke”, Coca-Cola has printed the most common Egyptian names on its beverage cans.
The campaign is one example of how many advertisers are appealing to the individualism in modern youth culture. US technology giant Apple, for example, capitalises on users self-perception with the “i” label in the company’s last iPhone 5S campaign whose tag line says “you’re more powerful than you think.” Other companies produce key chains, bookmarks and coffee mugs print names on their products to enhance their sales. Others create a personal link with the consumer by promotional campaigns involving posting selfies with the product on social media websites.
Coca-Cola’s campaign, which was originally launched in Australia, has dramatically changed Coca-Cola’s sales around the globe, especially among teenagers and young adults, according to Ogilvy, the advertising company which designed the original campaign.
Targeting millennials, youth below the age of 35, Coca-Cola depended on social media to spread the campaign, which increased the company’s Facebook page traffic by 870%, according to a report published in Australia’s Marketing Week Magazine. The campaign made more than 18,300,000 Facebook impressions, which represents the number of users the campaign posts have reached. The number of virtual Coke cans shared online was 76,000 and 378,000 custom Coke cans were printed across Australia.
The campaign has since achieved similar success in Egypt, said Youssef Ayoub, senior brand manager at Coca Cola Egypt.
“We’re talking about a global consumer,” Ayoub said. Young consumers are “so exposed” to different media and up to date with global trends that they became almost the same around the globe.
The company hopes that localising the campaign, which encourages sharing by printing the most common Egyptian first names and nicknames on coke cans, would spread positivity among the Egyptian people, who have recently gone through rough times, he said.
The use of names has initiated a two way conversation between Coca Cola and its customers in Egypt, the interaction is rather “fun” than “egocentric”, said Ayoub.
“A name has its own power of promoting interaction,” Ayoub said. “What’s more valuable to a person than his own name?”
The whole experience the consumer goes through in searching for a product that has his own name and buying it is generally fun and attractive, said Mona Amer, associate professor of psychology at The American University in Cairo. Selfies and virtual simulation of products on social media as a part of promotional campaigns are a way to go along with the social media fads that are popular among young adults.
“The more a product shares with a consumer, the more he feels connected to it,” Amer said.
The success of Coca Cola’s campaign can be attributed not only to following popular social media trends, but to the psychological nature of this particular age group.
“Young adults are generally egocentric across cultures,” Amer said. “They tend to focus more on themselves.”
Some researchers have expressed concern over the spread of selfies and similar practices promoting a self-centred life approach, she said. But there are no scientific studies that support these concerns so far, she said. However, the obsession with such self-centred practices could be a manifestation of narcissistic traits some people might already have, she said.