I’ve got a serious love/hate relationship going on with the “Share A Coke” marketing campaign. For starters, here’s what’s to love:
It’s marketing genius. There’s nothing like seeing a marketing campaign really work. Even if you’re totally against drinking soda, you’ve gotta give big props to whoever dreamt it up.
My name is finally included. I’ve lived my whole life frantically searching for my name on pencils, key chains at a Myrtle Beach Wings, shot glasses, and tumblers mostly to no avail. Sure, I was usually the only “Cheryl” in class, and, unlike my Jennifer counterparts, I never had to add my last initial to any paper, but there’s nothing like finding your name pre-printed on something. Like it was made for you and you only. I hit rock bottom last month when I saw that the good people at Grandfather Mountain thought enough of us Cheryls to include us in their handy pocket knife set, but Coke remained silent.
My name died in 1950 (if it was ever alive), and there are probably no Cheryls left in the coveted 18-34 age bracket, but finally someone at Coke thought enough of our little group to add us to the list. I think it just got there, because as of a month or so ago, we hadn’t made the cut. Now I just have to find it locally. (Click here to see if your name is included.)
It’s the perfect “thinking of you” gift. If you ever see a friend’s name on a Coke can, I say buy it. Play right into that marketing scam. You never know when your bestie will need a little pick-me-up, and trust me, people LOVE seeing their name printed. I’ve seen grown men giddy over finding “their” Coke – it’s universal.
But there are a couple of things that just drive me crazy about this marketing brouhaha:
It makes me feel guilty. Since my name just made the list and I’ve yet to buy one, I’ve spent the last few months only being able to identify with the “Share a Coke with Mom” because that’s the name I hear most often when someone is trying to talk to me. I rarely actually hear my REAL name spoken. So, as I am peacefully sipping my one semi-personalized Coke Zero for the day, usually at lunchtime when everyone is at school, the Coke can is actually saying to me: Why are you sitting still, MOM? Don’t you have a form to fill out, MOM? Don’t you have a carpool to pick up, MOM? MOM, MOM, MOM. It’s like they are here, but they’re not. And I am completely guilt ridden for a) drinking soda in the first place when I tell them they’re not supposed to; and b) sitting still long enough to take a sip.
My kids will probably forever hate their names. My daughter’s name, unbeknownst to us, was one of the most popular from the year she was born; so, while she will definitely find her name on every tchotchke in Wings (if they ever restock) and will definitely find it on a Coke can (once she’s older and it’s socially acceptable for her to drink a Coke), she will probably hate me for giving her a name that makes her use her last initial on every single test.
My boys, on the other hand, will never find their names on ANYTHING at Wings because all three have last names as first names. Well, not really first names. Middle names. And the name my middle son goes by is actually a nickname of his middle name. Confused yet? So am I. Actually, so are they. So is everyone else. When I scream their names together, you never know if I am screaming out the names of my boys or the name of a law firm. And, with the way they argue, it could totally be either. So, yep, they are going to hate me for their names.
Why in the world would I do this to them? Because I am SOUTHERN, and that’s what we do! We use last names as first names. And middle names as first names. And nicknames of middle names as first names. And, you’d think that the good people at Coke would actually know all of this and pull out the White Pages and scroll down the list of last names when making their personalized cans because isn’t Coke based in Atlanta? Home to the New South? Major Southern disappointment, Coke.
I bet their ad agency is in New York.