Cokes Happiness Formula Compelling Stories About Real People

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Tim Goudie is a pilot, a camper, a hiker, a swimmer, a skier.

But he's also an international marketer with global experience in a variety of packaged goods industries.

He's director of social media, sustainability, for The Coca-Cola in Atlanta, where he specializes in driving corporate trust and brand love.

His 15-year career with the company spans three countries and includes roles in global interactive marketing, sports marketing and strategic brand marketing, among others.



Before joining the Coca-Cola Co., the South African native managed high-profile brands for Fortune 500 companies in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Canada.

Other notable brands in his portfolio include Cadbury chocolate, Pillsbury, Neutrogena and RoC Skincare, and Irvin & Johnson frozen foods.

He holds a Bachelor of social science degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a Master’s Degree in business administration from the University of Leicester in the UK.

Sobel: Can you give us a brief overview of your journey from South Africa to Atlanta?

Goudie: From experiencing sandstorms in Saudi Arabia through to learning how to shovel snow for the first time in Toronto, it’s been an adventure to say the least.

My marketing roles have taken me around the world. I’ve learned that while the principles and practices of marketing remain the same regardless of where you are, it takes a willingness to embrace change and constantly advance your knowledge of marketing to truly grow in this field.

That's why as a brand marketer, I deliberately chose to gain knowledge and experience in sports marketing, then digital marketing and now, most recently, in sustainability marketing.

The common theme underlying my various marketing roles has been that of leading change in companies to ensure that we remain current and meet ever-evolving consumer needs.

Sobel: People have been saying for years that with social media, we have the most powerful storytelling platform that’s ever been invented. But it’s mostly wasted effort until we figured out "What's our story?" "What’s most compelling about our brand?" "How do the stories we tell channel our passions and advance our values?" Can you share your thoughts?

Goudie: I see storytelling as both an art and a science.

The art is crafting stories that connect emotionally with consumers. When we share our stories, it’s important to understand the distinction between the company voice and the brand voice.

To be compelling, stories need to be about real people in real situations, facing and overcoming challenges and celebrating triumphs to which we can all relate.

For example, our sustainability stories focus on the communities that are improved as a result of Coca-Cola’s initiatives and programs.

The science of storytelling is making sure we deliver the right stories to the right people. We have found that paid social media in partnership with our public affairs and communication team is the most effective way to do this.

Sobel: Tell us a bit about your current role, specifically with sustainability and how you’re tasked with using digital media to enhance the brand.

Goudie: I'm leading the company’s digital marketing communications to share our sustainability stories.

We chose this strategy because paid social media enables us to target precisely the right consumers who are genuinely interested in the topics of our stories.

Because we are able to deliver content that appeals directly to consumers’ personal interests, they tend to help share, spread and engage with this content in ways we haven't seen before.

My role also includes building internal capabilities at Coca-Cola and guiding colleagues to share and spread our sustainability stories around the world.

Sobel: Back in 2006 you spoke at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington, D.C. At the time you were a metrics and measurement expert for Coca-Cola’s Global Interactive Marketing Team. In the presentation, you gave a candid, direct delivery on the ups and downs of measuring online marketing. Can you share a bit about that presentation and/or how much has metrics and measurement changed in the past nine years?

Goudie: I'm a marketer by training and experience. So I need to know what impact my media investment is having on people’s perception of both my brand and my company. I absolutely love digital media for the simple reason that you can measure just about everything in a way you could never do with traditional media.

When I first started in this field, interactive marketing was all about loyalty programs, website traffic and email marketing. The analytics focused primarily on extracting data on companies’ websites.

With the evolution of social media and more recently big data, collecting and interpreting consumer information has become much more complex. The focus now is on the integration of this consumer information to deliver more meaningful content and experiences to consumers.

Sobel: At the 2014 Digital Strategy Conference in Vancouver, you gave an awesome presentation. However Tara Dong wrote a blog post after your presentation. She noted, “Having volunteered extensively in some of the poorest regions of Mexico, I’ve watched with deep concern as parents gave their children bottles of Coca-Cola to drink because it is cheaper than bottled water and contains desperately needed calories. Empty calories, yes. But when your family is struggling to survive in a region with undrinkable water, you do what you can. I wondered to myself if Coca-Cola cared about these families, these impoverished communities…” Can you share your thoughts?

Goudie: One of the reasons I was so excited to take on the social media director position in the sustainability department was because I discovered countless examples of how the Coca-Cola Co. has been making a positive difference within the communities in which we operate.

Not even I, as an employee, knew about all the initiatives we have been leading around the world for decades including well being, women and water.

Based on the company’s operating principle of creating value for the communities in which we operate, Coca-Cola has been contributing to communities globally for years but has not broadcast this information. The social media director role presented an ideal opportunity to gather these stories and share them with consumers.

Here are a few examples of our global sustainability initiatives:

  • Project RAIN – providing fresh, clean drinking water to communities in which we operate
  • Project Last Mile – teaching governments how to distribute medicines in the same way we distribute Coca-Cola beverages to every corner of the earth
  • 5by20 – empowering and training 5 million women by the year 2020 who are directly benefiting by being part of our value chain as retailers, distributors, farmers, artisans, and recyclers
  • Coletivo – training young people from the slums in Brazil in the basics of business and preparing them for the job market

Sobel: Tell me more about the 5by20 initiative.

Goudie: The 5by20 initiative is a fascinating global project. We work with partners and governments to develop programs that address the barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs within our value chain from succeeding in the marketplace.

Specifically, that means we are working with women who own or manage small businesses the company works with in over 200 countries around the world – from fruit farmers to retailers to artisans – to increase access to 1) business skills training courses, 2) financial services and assets and 3) networks of peers or mentors.

Women who participate in 5by20 learn business basics such as bookkeeping, retailing and merchandising, stock management, marketing etc., and help build entrepreneur networks with their communities through which they can encourage each other to become leaders.

Why are we doing this?

Empowering women and creating economic growth through 5by20 strengthens the communities where we operate.

Women are much more likely to reinvest their income on food, education and healthcare for their children and their families. In short we are helping them build their businesses, support their families and build their communities.

Sobel: Next Tuesday, you'll be the keynote speaker at the ClickZ Live conference in New York City. Your presentation is entitled “Sustainability, Storytelling & Social Media." You said attendees could expect to:

  • Discover what makes a story connect with consumers.
  • Find out how to leverage paid social media and maximize this channel for their companies
  • Learn how to build a strategy to influence topics of conversation that helps drive increases in brand love and company trust

Can you tell us a bit more?

Goudie: As recently as 18 months ago, we weren't using paid social media to tell our sustainability stories in a consistent way.

This is new for the company. It’s the first time that we are leading a marketing communications campaign using only paid social media as a dedicated media channel to share and spread our sustainability stories.

At ClickZ Live, I'll share with the audience our “journey of discovery” and reveal what we’ve learned along the way.