An excited consumer displays her personalized can
Since Share a Coke first launched in Australia in 2011, many Nigerians have followed the campaign longingly on social media but could only relate to it as a distant phenomenon. So it was a pleasant surprise when the campaign, crossed close to 9,000 miles to launch in Nigeria in January.

In a country famed for its diversity – over 400 distinct ethnic and cultural groups – selecting names for the campaign was an uphill task. In the end, however, 600 popular names from across the regions made it to the final list and on to Coca-Cola bottles and cans.  

The campaign broke quietly with surprise presentations of personalized Coke bottles to some celebrities and VIPs. This set off a rush of celebrity selfies on social media which, in turn, ignited curiosity and chatter that whetted consumer appetite. The chatter raged for two weeks before a media launch finally confirmed the fact that ‘the Share a Coke eagle’ had, indeed, landed!

Students pose with their personalized cans at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) in Lagos.
Since charity begins at home, Coca-Cola system associates savoured the campaign firsthand. They received personalized Coke bottles and T-shirts for themselves and their spouses. Offices and bottling plants were decorated with Share a Coke banners and danglers emblazoned with their names. Key trade partners were also honoured with personalized bottles while 140,000 outlets were branded with Share a Coke collateral in the first three weeks of the campaign, creating strong visibility in the marketplace.

Mo Abudu, CEO Of Ebony Life TV and Presenter of popular TV show, Moments with MO, displays her Share a Coke influencer pack.
In stores across the country, shoppers eagerly searched stacks of Coca-Cola packs for particular names. Remilekun Yinusa recounts her own experience. “I saw people searching for Coke bottles with their names, and I was excited when I saw my  mine, Remi. I bought the Coke and took a picture to immortalize the day I saw my name on a Coke bottle. It was a wonderful experience.”

Many others share her sentiments. “To see your name on a Coke bottle makes you feel good, valued and appreciated. That will make me want to buy Coke every time,” said Nduka Emmy, a supervisor in a clothing store. Another consumer, Folarin Lukula, an IT personnel in a bank wants to keep the bottle with his name for posterity. “I will keep my bottle till my two-year old daughter grows up to see it,” he enthused.   Overall, consumers have responded positively, with many special requests for bulk orders to Share a Coke at weddings, birthdays, events, and even political rallies!

Cross section of consumers waiting eagerly for Share a Coke customized cans at the experiential activation at the University of Lagos (UNILAG)
Although a virtual portal allows consumers to create and share their own bottles online, most consumers say that finding an actual Coke bottle or can with their names is ‘the Real Thing’! Hence, the lucky ones feel entitled to bragging rights, making the experiential tour around Nigeria a hit with teens.  The buzz is alive with stories of wedding proposals, friends seen hugging in stores, and much more each day.

“By encouraging consumers to share their personalized Coke with family, friends and loved ones, Share a Coke promotes our mission to refresh the world and to inspire shared moments of optimism and happiness,” Coca-Cola Nigeria GM, Adeola Adetunji says of the campaign.

Suyi Adelakun, a brands and advertising analyst, perhaps, best sums consumer perspectives on the campaign in a feature article in the local media: “The Share a Coke campaign clearly shows how much Coca-Cola understands its target market and how far the brand is prepared to go to woo and embrace its consumers in such an intimate way that no other brand has ever dared to imagine.”

Matthieu Seguin, Commercial Director, Nigerian Bottling Company, Bolajoko Bayo-Ajayi, Marketing Manager, Colas, Coca-Cola Nigeria Franchise, Patricia Jemibewon, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Franchise and Sam Umukoro, Communications Manager, Coca-Cola, Nigeria Franchise during the media launch