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Advertising isn’t marketing

At least on its own. And there is big difference between building the brand and activating the brand. Sergio Zyman highlights this as he recalls the New Coke disaster. What’s also interesting in his comments is how important hubris is in the PR element of any launch.

"What we saw was an increase in awareness, an increase in feeling good about what the company was," he said. "They were great ads, but that’s what they were: ads. Not really good marketing tools. … In those days, advertising was really the only element of marketing. You put an ad on the air, consumers liked it, everybody writes about it, the bottlers felt happy, and there was nothing else."

In advance of New Coke, Mr. Zyman says the company ramped up ad spending, doubled price promotion and employed deep discounts — to no avail. "The only thing left was to change the product or change the advertising," he said.

"I think we were lazy in really recognizing that we needed to reactivate or reposition the brand. If we had done that through an advertising process, I don’t think New Coke would have ever happened, but there was such resistance to any kind of change in the advertising position of the brand that we introduced a change in the taste," Mr. Zyman said. "I know, you’ll say that’s ridiculous, and I agree. But it happened.

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