Is Coke's New Content Play It? - Adam Kleinberg

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Coca-Cola has relaunched their corporate website as a content portal with, get this, actual great content. Some of it is about the brand, but some isn't. Should Coke try to be a magazine? Will it succeed?

Is this a brilliant move or insanity?

This is a tactic that has been very successful for other brands. American Express OPEN Forum has become a very legitimate small business publication with terrific content from contributors like Guy Kawasaki and Gary Vaynerchuck.

AmEx's approach is a clear value exchange. The top of the page is 100% AmEx navigation and marketing. But the content is 100% great stuff you might actually want to read.

The fundamental strategy is sound. I had zero reason to visit Coke's corporate website yesterday. Coke Zero, you might say. Today, I might go there because someone shares an article on Facebook or I find it on Google or, maybe, I might even just go there to see what's new.

Clearly this strategy has been successful for AmEx.

Coke, however is a bit more heavy-handed in its content marketing efforts. Some might say clever. Others might say oafish.

AmEx has a customer-centric approach to its content marketing efforts. Coke has a brand-centric approach. For example, the lead story today on is about "The 'Support my School' Project in India," a wonderful project that Coke is doing in India.

Yes, it's a very nice story, but will it get me, Mr. Consumer, to come back?

Other stories are blatantly self-serving like this one on the NYC Soda Ban claiming that New Yorkers are lining up against the City's ban on soda.

Are they really?

Overall, this is an amazing effort. There is some great content being created, but I can literally hear the compromises and justifications being made..

"How does this benefit the brand?"

"Why should we spend millions on this site and this content if it's not promoting Coke?"

"Can't you make the logo bigger?"

Overall, I applaud the effort from Coke and think it will be successful. But I'm not giving them a standing ovation yet.

When Coke gets that content marketing is about really about putting the customer first, then I'll really jump to my feet.

Stir (never shake) a spoonful of charisma, a jigger of positive energy and a mind as sharp as a freshly plucked lemon and you get close to the cocktail that is Adam Kleinberg. Adam is CEO and a founding partner of Traction, an advertising agency and innovation consultancy in San Francisco. He can be reached at

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