In light of the recent Coca Cola marketing nightmare ( see:, Juan our in house content creator, sheds light on how his agency fell victim to another blunder working on the global brand that could have been avoided.

Big Budgets Only Ensure Big Exposition

For such a huge global brand, Coca Cola sure know how to make a mess of things. During my time as a marketing executive for Coca Cola, I encountered my first marketing campaign disaster. We had launched a campaign in Buenos Aires that depicted a woman on her back wearing a short skirt. The copy along side it, when translated in Spanish said: “You have to put the limit to the thirst, but you’re more flexible respect of your clothes”. To give this some context, Argentina was smack bang right in the middle of battle for women’s rights. So as you can imagine, the response to this particular campaign was anything but positive.

We had 2 hours to delete the post and the pressure was on.

You’re probably wondering why a huge multinational company, with a budget bigger than most to hire a team of marketing experts would get this so so so wrong. Well, that’s easy: there’s no exact science to marketing and sometimes we fall victim to our own human errors. For the record, me and some of my colleagues did try and stop the post from going live but alas, our seniors made the final call and out it went.

The thing about social media is that no one can be 100% certain what’s going to work and what’s not, we are often surprised as to what the public love or in this case, hate. Sometimes, global brands only have one secure thing: exposition. This means less effort to be viral but also means more eyes looking for mistakes on your campaigns. When you work for a company, your problem is not the money. The real problem is the global brand guidelines and multiple key decision makers who are employed so the company has less chance of failing.

Despite countless sign off processes, sometimes these things simply slip through the net. The New Zealand campaign is a perfect example of a brand that tried to engage with the locals but completely missed an important piece of the cultural puzzle. Again, you may be thinking why wasn’t a more thorough market research conducted before the creation of the campaign, could they have employed a temporary translator for the campaign? Apparently not. Fortunately they have the resources to quickly clean up their mess and for now, Coca Cola will continue to be Coca Cola and do what they do best.

One bad translation, one confusing message, one controversial image… everything counts, and you have to be alert. Because it’s so hard to gain reputation on marketing, but it’s too easy to lose it.

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