News & Views

Coca Cola / Sharing Can

by Contagious Team

Soft drink brand designs a soda can that friends can share

Coca-Cola in Singapore has created a new twist on sharing a can of Coke. The brand partnered with Ogilvy & Mather Singapore and France to launch the Coca-Cola Sharing Can, which looks like a regular Coke can but then twists to become two mini cans. 

As part of a pilot project, Coke distributed its Sharing Can to thirsty Singaporeans and documented their surprised reactions in a YouTube film that has racked up more than 1 million views since being uploaded on 29 May. 

We caught up with Leonardo O'Grady, Coca-Cola's ASEAN IMC director, to find out more about process behind creating the Sharing Can and the brand's plans for the project. 

What was your creative brief? 

One of our challenges is to shift more from saying and showing towards trying to create more real actions, real experiences that somehow add brand value in way that's more authentic. 

This was part of an ongoing brief around coming up with fresh ideas about 'Where will happiness strike next?' The objective behind that brief is to disrupt people's everyday lives with something surprising or positive that will make them smile or engage in one way or another. A big part of the brand value is connection, and at the heart of that has to be the possibility to bring people together, creating a moment of positive connection. 

How were the Sharing Cans distributed? 

A big part of what we do is proof of concept. We rolled the Sharing Can out as a pilot. We wanted to capture people's reactions, and then we'd have this as a case study so that we could begin to scale it and try it in additional markets. That's how we do a lot of these things. For example that's what we did with the aluminium Coke bottle. Once you have a case study it helps build the business case. 

We got a team in Singapore to accompany the distribution team. We followed them to areas where we knew there would be heavy traffic, and then we filmed people's reactions. We did it in a combination of outlets, from mom and pop shops to vending to convenience. 

We wanted to have an authentic reaction to the packaging. If you create additional activations it can often distract and then it becomes lost within all the noise of whatever it is you're doing. We really wanted this to be in its purest possible form to really see how people would react and what kind of power it has. 

How many cans were created? 

I don't have an exact figure but it was a limited number. If we did this on a larger scale, the implications for our canning lines would have been massive. So we had to work with an external production housing vendor, and we could only do that with a limited quantity. With a lot of these sorts of pilots that's how we tend to approach it. You need a lot of learning before you can begin to integrate on any type of mass scale. We build on those learnings, modify, and improve, and then we commercialise it. 

Did you have any research that supported the idea of the Sharing Can? 

We had interesting shopper-led research around the behaviour of young adults in Asia, particularly on consumption in an on-the-go environment. They would go into stores for snacks in the afternoon and they would either not want a full Coke or not want to necessarily spend all their money on a drink. We saw the behaviour of sharing occurring quite a lot. 

We asked ourselves, 'How do we meet that?' There were different solutions around the globe that we looked at. For example, one of our markets used to have a thing called the Buddy Pack, which was really just two Cokes put together at price promotion. But we thought there must be a more interesting way of doing that. 

But if I'm being honest with you, this was not the brief. The brief was around bringing an unexpected moment of happiness. But when we saw this idea, we thought it was a beautiful solution to a shopper issue that we had. So not only does this address the connection idea, but it helps solve a real business problem.

How did the design of the can come about? 

When we first saw the idea it was a concept, there were none of the functional specifications of how we would do it. Then the agency went away and had the challenge of making it. We talked about Coke doing it in our existing operations and we couldn't. 

The agency brought together a cross-functional team - some were traditional designers, some were product designers, some were from digital labs. France was the execution hub of the hardware, and Singapore was the architect in many respects. There were two design stages. One was looking at the identity and the visuals of the can itself. And then there was technical stage: How does it hook together? How do you twist it? How do you get the product into the can? 

The whole project took about six or seven months. We produced a number of prototypes and we did the trial in March. 

What were the biggest challenges? 

The original challenge was looking at whether we could immediately do it in our own production lines. Then we asked who the right production partners were. 

Then we needed to find something that could preserve the product and not compromise the carbonation. You wouldn't believe how complicated the issue of carbonation is for the canning process: making sure the carbonation is at the right level, and the structure of the container can cope. It puts an enormous amount of stress on the can. It was really about trying to find the right sizing and ratio for the can. 

Another challenge (you'd think it would be the easiest bit) was the twist mechanism. We looked at a couple of options and they were too stiff. You need to create the right experience for people; when it is too difficult you already undermine the happiness moment that you're trying to create. 

Is the Sharing Can related to Coke's anti-obesity messaging in any way? 

Yes and no. Yes, in that we knew that there was a lot of demand for smaller packs. People didn't necessarily want a full 300ml or 150ml Coke. Some of our learning was that people would like to have Coke more often but they don't want to waste it. It was more driven by that then a hard issue around obesity. We do like providing people with choice. People have said this is a great alternative to the other pack sizes and they are looking at it very positively. All this stuff is really important for us as we begin to prepare a business case for this and get markets excited. You need as much of this kind of evidence that people are really supporting these ideas. 

Are you planning to roll this out on a wider scale? 

Really right now it's a pilot. If consumers love it and our markets love it, then we're going to work really hard to launch it on a wider scale. It's a fresh idea for packaging, and packaging is one of those areas that doesn't often get fresh ideas, something like this that goes beyond just a different shape or a different portion and can have a more powerful significance. We love the potential for this to become an ongoing, real packaging solution. 

We're looking at what some of the challenges are. We need to test how we can mass manufacture this in a way that makes it economically viable. We don't want to charge people more, and we don't want to compromise the product. 

People are looking at it right now in our teams around the world, because there's a lot of interest. We can't give an exact date that we're going to be launching with this, but what we'll probably try to do (a bit like we did with the Hug Machine) is do a couple more appearances in different countries.

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact