Big Soda Personalizing Its Way into Your Heart

How does it make you feel when someone calls you by your first name? How about when you find something with your name emblazoned on it? Stores and amusement parks sell tons of this tchotchke stuff: key chains, mugs, pens, signs and tiny license plates, to name a few, on a spinning rack. There are plenty of times I’ve found myself stopping in a front of one of these to whirl it around to see if “Cindy” shows up anywhere.

Coke has figured this one out as a remedy for their recent falling soda sales. The new Share a Coke and a Smile campaign includes putting individual names on bottles of Coke. Mainly popular names among millennials, and of course, it’s created quite a stir in the search for names. If you don’t see your name, you can go to their website and personalize a bottle. For five-bucks, Coke will send it to you. This campaign has worked so well that people are not only buying soda with their names, they are buying bottles with their friends and family’s names. If they don’t find the name they are looking for, they are telling Coke about it.

Coke is no longer about quenching your thirst anymore. A bottle of Coke is now a special gift you can give to someone you care about. People will tend to buy more if they see names of people they know alongside their own — sales of Coke will increase exponentially. Sure it’s fun and it pulls on the emotional heart string of sharing good times and togetherness. But all this cleverness only plays down the daunting fact that increased intake of sugary drinks is a huge factor in childhood and adult obesity. One thing that can’t be denied, is the idea of finding your name on something is geared toward kids and young adults, which is where these companies always want to start with their advertising, early and as young as possible — so much for the promise not to market to children. Not to mention they also have strategies for targeting low income and certain ethnic groups.

Food or drink used as a reward is usually a bad idea, especially when it comes to children. To show that they are special by giving them a personalized bottle of sugary water is even worse. But parents, who are aware of how big food and beverage companies will go straight for the heart to get to them give over their hard-earned money, are already ahead of the game. For a split second, when making the decision to buy that bottle, when your kid suddenly sees their name, they want you to forget about your child’s nutritional health. Hold your ground, and buy them the tiny license plate instead.

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