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Coca-Cola Gets Personal (and Israeli)

New personalized cans star Hebrew, Arabic, and English names

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(Coca-Cola)

Guests entering our dining room quickly guess that my wife has a personal relationship with Coca-Cola. When the company announced, in 1985, that it was changing its secret formula to create the ill-fated New Coke, this panicked teenager began collecting what she assumed would soon be collector’s editions of cans and bottles in every shape and style she could lay her hands on. Over the years, the collection grew, spent time in a museum, and today adorns our dining room in a pair of glass showcases.

In a Jerusalem supermarket this week, it was Coke’s turn to get personal with her: she found a bottle with her name on it…literally. As an online marketer, I’ve seen some powerful campaigns, but I’m still reeling from the slam-dunk vibe of this one. The program is called “Enjoy Coca Cola with…,” and shoppers can now find bottles and cans emblazoned with their names — designed, naturally, to be grabbed off the shelves.

Apparently, a similar campaign is running in Sweden, where instead of Hila, Galit, Eitan and Lior, you’ll find 150 of their most popular names, like Maria, Karl, Birgitta and Göran. (Interestingly, despite its popularity, “Mohammed” won’t grace the labels over there, as it doesn’t jive, the company explains, with a product so closely identified with the United States.)

It’s truly inspired. Standing by the displays, we watched as shoppers slid across the shelves turning bottles, seeking the eponymous. They grabbed husband/wife pairs, girlfriends squealed with each discovery, and my wife even found “Saba” alongside names of two of his granddaughters. But the brilliance of the campaign is its social-media-based virality–naturally, before the shopping cart, the camera phones come out to send the images directly to social networks to share the excitement. Facebook profile pictures are already popping up. Saba got his picture, seconds later, back in New York.

Can’t find your name? The website will now help you create a “Virtual Can” in seconds, ready for sharing, and stands await shoppers in supermarkets across the country to create named cans on the fly–whether in Hebrew, English, or Arabic. Mohammed’s in luck, after all.

Jay Bailey has lived in Efrat, Israel for 18 years. His marketing company, RapidFire Consulting, helps startups and non-profits in Israel and the U.S. tell their stories through animated video and website messaging.

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Coca-Cola Gets Personal (and Israeli)

New personalized cans star Hebrew, Arabic, and English names

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