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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Being one of the most well-known, most valuable brands in the world, Coca Cola has done a pretty good job. Even when the recession hit and consumers cut back on every area of spending, Coca Cola managed to stay ahead of other famous brands such as McDonalds, Marlboro and Disney. In the last decade sales started to drop due to increasing consumer concern on weight and health problems caused by drinking Coca Cola. The brand identity lost its clarity and became uninspiring. The company decided to turn over a new leaf and design a marketing campaign that goes back to the basics of drinking Coca Cola: the ‘Open Happiness' campaign. The aim of the campaign was to simplify every aspect of Coca Cola as a brand, and express this in highly creative and refreshing ways. The campaign started in the United States but soon it became a unique worldwide campaign emphasizing different aspects of Coca Cola in different parts of the world, but all with the same message: spreading happiness by drinking a Coke.

At the University of Singapore, a Coca Cola vending machine was installed on campus. The biggest difference with normal vending machines was the text on the front of the machine which said “hug me”. Instead of paying with normal currency, people have squeeze the sides of the machine in a specific way, and in return the machine provides you with a free can of Coke. Public displays of affection are highly discouraged, not only in Singapore but all over Asia, although they are on the rise among the youth. By trying to create a positive and pleasurable psychological association between affection and soft drinks, Coca Cola designed a campaign which was not only a huge success in Singapore, but went viral in a large part of Asia. Their sales greatly increased through the use of one basic emotion in their marketing campaign: happiness.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the success of Coca Colas ‘open happiness' campaign in Asia. In the analysis the use of happiness and other emotions that could have influenced the campaign will be discussed. The role of differences in expressing public affection around the world will be investigated and a comparison will be made between this campaign, and western Coca Cola campaigns.


In order to analyze the success of the Coca Cola ‘open happiness' campaign, it is import to understand the concept of brand love first.  Prior research shows that brand love is associated with positive word-of-mouth and forgiveness of brand failures (Thomson, MacInnis & Park, 2005). Brand love is a higher order construct defined by multiple cognitions, emotions and behaviors, and self-brand connections (Escalas & Bettman, 2003). Batra, Ahuvia and Bagozzi (2012) developed a structural equations model of the brand love prototype, expanding the understanding of the consumer experience of brand love. Ten major components are distinguished in the brand love prototype: quality; values and meaning; intrinsic rewards; self-identity; positive affect; natural fit; emotional bonding; willingness to invest; frequent use; and length of use. When talking about brand love, the first thing consumers mention are the brand's qualities. Trustworthiness and good-looking design are important predictors of brand love. Brands are more likely to be loved when connected to existential meaning, cultural identities or self-actualization. Strongly-held values and existential meaning are therefore another important component of brand love. A brand provides intrinsic rewards through creating psychological or emotional states such as happiness, as being part of using the product. Intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards both have a positive influence on brand love, but only when combined. When brands only provide extrinsic rewards, brand love decreases (Batra, Ahuvia & Bagozzi, 2012). The consumer's direct relationship with the product, and the brand's facilitation of interpersonal relationships reflect the function of loved brands to express existing identities and desired identities (Escalas & Bettman, 2003). Self-identity therefore, is an important predictor of brand love. Consumers experience brand love with positive emotions and ‘warm hearted' feelings. They also experience a harmony with the brand, and a sense of natural fit. Thomson, MacInnis and Park (2005) found that feeling emotionally connected to a brand serves as an important predictor for brand love and that consumers can experience separation distress when they anticipate that the brand will be taken away from them. Consumers invest a lot of time, energy and money into loved brand, integrating it into their identity and increasing attachment with the brand. A key aspect in determining brand love is the amount of time you spend with the product. Frequent thought and use of the product are important and create more strongly held attitudes toward the product. Finally, Batra, Ahuvia & Bagozzi (2012) argue that having a long history with a brand can give the brand a place in the consumer's personal identity. Past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior and thus implies higher loyalty to loved brands (Thomson, MacInnis & Park, 2005).

Holbrook & Batra (1987) developed a model to understand the role of emotions in advertising effects. Ad content leads to emotional responses, which will change the attitude toward the ad and eventually the attitude toward the brand. Ad content can directly influence the attitude toward the ad and the brand, and emotional responses can directly influence the attitude toward the brand. Emotions in advertising are important mediators of the relationship between ad content and attitude towards the brand. Pleasure and arousal can greatly increase the attitude towards the brand.

Rutledge, Skandali, Dayan & Dolan (2014) proposed a model on the subjective well-being of individuals. Momentary happiness can be explained by the combined influence of recent reward expectations and prediction errors arising from those expectations, rather than by the current earnings. Feelings of happiness tend to be greater in the moment when things are going better than expected. Advertisers thus should focus on exceeding expectations by providing little moments of happiness, to build valuable consumer relationships.  

Another important predictor of the success of Coca Cola's ‘open happiness' campaign in Asia comes forth of cultural differences between Asian and Western countries. Public displays of affections are acts of physical intimacy in the sight of others. The acceptability differs between different cultures and displays of affection on the street are likely to be discouraged compared to displays of affection in private places. In Europe, the United States, Australia and other western countries it is quite common to display affection such as holding hands, hugging or kissing in public. In many Asian countries inhabitants live up to the rules of Confucianism, in which public displaying of emotions or affect is highly disliked. Over the years the younger generations deviated from traditions although holding hands, hugging or kissing in public is still regarded as unsightly. The integration of public displays of affection in Asian culture is slowly increasing but nevertheless still an issue. (ADD REFERENCES)


Batra, R., Ahuvia, A., & Bagozzi, R. P. (2012). Brand love. Journal of Marketing, 76(2), 1-16.

Holbrook, M. B., & Batra, R. (1987). Assessing the role of emotions as mediators of consumer responses to advertising. Journal of consumer research, 404-420.

Rutledge, R. B., Skandali, N., Dayan, P., & Dolan, R. J. (2014). A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(33), 12252-12257.

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