Exploitive or Tactical for Social Profitability?

Engaging the many by targeting the few

When is it o.k. to push boundaries? For Social Profitability… perhaps all of the time?!?

I read in ADWEEK about a campaign created by an agency in Demark on behalf of Coca-Cola and its new brand, stevia- and cane-sugar-sweetened Coca-Cola Life. The kicker was that only about 5% of the population could actually see the message.

The message was hidden in the creative using a technique called, reverse Ishihara images, which can only be seen by colour-blind people. They saw the word “Life” embedded in the greenish-brown bubbles as seen by most people.

The idea was based on the premise of engaging many by targeting the few, explained by the agency’s managing partner. Their goal was to increase engagement by creating curiosity.

See what people thought…

The campaign rolled out in digital ads, social media, outdoor installations and at department-store sampling sessions.


As for the results, according to the agency, the unique campaign generated substantial earned media, reaching more than 17 percent of the Danish population between 10 and 60 years old.

So… is this type of campaign right for everybody? Perhaps the more important question is not is it right, but when is it right? Specifically, when is it alright to leverage the unique qualities or perceptions of specific groups for financial gain?

I think the opportunity to heighten the general public’s awareness about a particular cause or organization, while at the same time that a brand or company promotes itself, has the potential to create a win-win situation.

Consider a strategic approach to evaluate any and all concepts. Create, what I like to call, a Stakeholder Decision Guide. Eliminate the personal bias and opinion, that is not uncommon in any organization, by establishing consistent and strategically grounded criteria for measuring success. Apply the same filter to all concepts, providing your stakeholders with the confidence that they are making the right decisions.

Consider the following components of an effective Stakeholder Decision Guide:

  1. A summary of your customer insight data, to ensure that we understand why your most loyal customers love your brand.
  2. Details of your brand strategy or platform, with a clear articulation of your brand proposition.
  3. A clear articulation of what success looks like or your key operation indicators (KOI’s).

So I end where I began. To achieve Social Profitability, consider pushing boundaries all of the time, measured by a good dose of strategic thinking.

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