retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Last Thursday, commenting on a story about how Coca-Cola was bringing out a new can design for Diet Coke and was sending cases of it to trendsetters around the country, I wrote:

I think I’m hurt. How come MNB didn’t make the cut as a trendsetter?

I’ll put it out there right now. I’ll trade an MNB t-shirt, three MNB canvas shopping bags and a half-dozen MNB canvas wine bags for an advance case of this new Diet Coke.

On Friday, FedEx tried to deliver something to my office, but I wasn’t there, so the driver left a door tag. Saturday morning, I went to the local FedEx office with something less than enthusiasm; you’d be amazed how many PR people send press releases via FedEx and require a signature, which only serves to annoy me when I have to drive a few miles to pick up what amounts to junk mail.

But not Saturday.

I handed the door tag to the woman behind the counter, she went into the back, and a few moments later came out carrying a box with the Diet Coke logo on it.

I busted out in laughter. Because I knew exactly what it was, and was amazed that not only had Coke sent me a case of the new Diet Coke, but had done so seemingly within hours of seeing my MNB commentary.

It was what I would call a ‘Wow!” moment.

The clerk retrieving the box was startled by my reaction, and asked what was so funny. Which prompted me to tell her the story behind the case of Diet Coke ... as well as tell the other people in the office, who were intrigued by how fast Coke has responded and interested in checking out the new can design when it ends up in stores next month. (I suppose I could have given them some of mine, but I’m not that generous a guy.)

So not only did I have a “Wow!” moment, but I shared it with other people. Just like I’m doing now.

That’s the real point.

These days, especially, marketers have to specialize in “Wow!” moments. They connect marketers to the customer, and - if done right - create something that will be shared over and over, giving the “Wow!” moment a long shelf life.

It’s what manufacturers have to do. It’s what retailers have to do.

“Wow!” moments get us to open our eyes, and pay attention a little bit more than we might have otherwise. They create a climate in which connections and forged and sales are made.

They should never be underestimated, and always be pursued.

That’s what Coke did. And it worked.

And by the way ... I love the new can design. I think that Coke gets it right ... it is stylized enough to be both cool and different, familiar enough to be recognizable (in the way that icons often are), and manages - both through smart design and by avoiding the spectacle of having the designer doing media interviews proclaiming himself to be god-like in his abilities and taste - to avoid the problems faced by other manufacturers in recent years that tried to overhaul their package designs with disastrous results.

(One more thing ... they didn’t even ask for anything in return. The card was just signed, “The Diet Coke Team.” So I don’t know who gets the MNB tchotchkes....)
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