Coca-Cola recently launched a Christmas campaign under the new Real Magic philosophy and platform. The campaign was marked by the launch of a Christmas caravan that is to visit the major towns across the country.

We spoke to Miriam Limo who is the Head of Marketing at Coca-Cola in Kenya to get to know more about their Christmas caravan campaign under their new brand philosophy.

Tell us about yourself

I am the head of marketing at Coca-Cola in Kenya which means I work with all the brands in the company. I have been in working at this role since February this year, however, I have worked at the company for nine years in different capacities and countries such as DRC, Somalia, Uganda.

Tell us about the Coca-Cola Christmas Caravan

The story of the Coca-Cola Christmas caravan is a very heart warming one. Over the years we have come to realize that one of the things that really connect us as human beings is that emotion that comes with the festivities. It doesn’t matter which community/race or denomination that you come from, the Christmas caravan is a very heart warming event for families.

As a brand, we really pride ourselves with being able to connect with the hearts and minds of consumers. The Christmas caravan is an asset that we have run for very many years and that we recently relaunched in Kenya. It was very important for us to do it this year because for the past 18 months, there has been a dark cloud hanging over the country and the world courtesy of the pandemic.

As such, we felt the caravan was one activity that could bring some sort of warmth and happiness despite what the world is going through at the moment. This is because Coca Cola as a brand essentially is about happiness, optimism, enjoyment, family good time. If we could contribute a little bit of these aspects then our work is done. As someone famously said, “It is not Christmas until Coca-Cola has announced it, ” and we take that responsibility seriously and therefore we were very keen to flag off the caravan and therefore announce Christmas. I don’t know if you noticed that as soon as we launched the caravan, everybody put their Christmas lights up and got into festive mode.

What is the history behind the Christmas Caravan?

Let me speak to my own history about the caravan, the caravan started off in 1995 as a campaign. The campaign was about how the brand could spread the joy of Christmas and Santa in the world. This was the ‘Holidays Are Coming’ campaign, it was very successful in that people resonated with it across the world. What many people don’t know is that it was an advert and not an actual caravan. However, the reception was so good to a point that the brand thought of actually bringing the advert to life and that is how the real Christmas caravan started.

How many Christmas caravans has Coca-Cola done in the Kenyan market?

Over the nine years that I have worked with the brand and there has always been a Christmas caravan. Even before I joined the company, I can distinctly remember seeing the Coca Cola Christmas Caravan coming into Eldoret town as a child. Our home in Eldoret is just outside the town and I remember seeing the guys in the caravan waiting for dusk to fall so that they could drive into town. I remember telling my folks that we need to wait until the caravan goes into town and that was quite a number of years ago.

As such, I can say that we have consistently executed the caravan for a very long time and I can comfortably vouch for 10 years. This year, what is different is that we are launching the caravan in different parts of the country as opposed to just Nairobi which was the norm. So far, it has been launched in Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Nyeri with other towns to follow.

This will be the first Christmas campaign under the Real Magic brand philosophy. Tell us more about this?

The Real Magic philosophy is our new platform for the brand, in the past we have had, ‘Enjoy Coca-Cola’, ‘Open Happiness’, ‘Taste the Feeling.’ The Real Magic is coming at time when the world has really gone through some tough times courtesy of the pandemic. What this has revealed to us is that we are all connected, basically, the whole world is connected. Essentially, there are some things which look like they can separate us but there are also those that can bring us together.

When you look at those things that can bring people together, a bottle of Coca-Cola is among the top three. Even when you travel the world in different countries speaking different languages, Coca-Cola is a common denominator. What we are saying is that we are inviting people to celebrate with us the real magic of humanity. It is a brand philosophy which speaks to unexpected moments of connection. We are all different and we are going through different things but there are those things which bring us together other than the pandemic which can also be a brand. Those moments of connection that bring us together really demonstrate that we are all just one coke away.

So Real Magic is the philosophy of Coca Cola inviting our consumers to celebrate with us the real magic of humanity. It is our first global brand platform in over five years, the last one being Taste the Feeling.

Under Real Magic, we have a new design identity for the brand, as such you will start to see new elements like clinking bottles, a new logo perspective whereby the name Coca Cola appears to be wrapping itself around the bottle that represents a hug. You will also see a new tag line “Real Magic” across all our campaigns.

Also, when you watch the latest advert from the brand, you will see a very heartwarming relationship between a gamer, his character and how Coca Cola brings them together. This really brings home the concept that we are all just one coke away.

What activities do we expect to see as part of the caravan?

The caravan is a very Christmas related event, as such we have Santa Claus and of course we know that he comes with gifts and giveaways. The caravan will stop at the big towns, and they will be giving away Coca Cola and merchandise and pretty much spreading cheer. So, we are asking everybody to be on the lookout for it.

What does Coca Cola as a company expect to achieve from the caravan?

We expect to really pass on the message to the consumer that we are together and we are here to show you that what brings us together is more that what separates us as humans. We are here to tell you about the real magic of humanity, to ensure that we continue to stay engaged.

With the caravan, we are here to continue create new memories while at the same time refreshing memories of  caravan activations from the past. The way I can sit here and recall memories of the first Christmas caravan advert and the first caravan that I saw in real life, it is our hope that the generations to come will also have such great memories of activations done by Coca Cola during the festive season.

How will the traders benefit from the caravan?

We have partnered with various retailers whereby we are carrying out activations to give consumers a reason to purchase and a reason to enjoy their brand during this festive season. There are a lot of  discounts and prizes that the traders are sharing with consumers together with partnerships that have seen us do branding at the point of sale. This has helped create a vibrant and festive environment for the consumer.

What can Kenyans expect from Coca Cola  moving forward?

As guys are enjoying the festive season, I am busy preparing for the activities that we are going to roll out next year. However, I am not at liberty to share what these are but the only hint I can give is that the World Cup is coming. Given the fact that we are one of the major sponsors, we are definitely going to be doing something around it, so look out for what we have to offer. What I can promise you is that it is going to be bigger and better than any other year and so we are quite excited about that.