Cannes Lions

Breaking the Rules for Love


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In 2017, the same sex marriage vote divided Australia. Long-term champions of equality, diversity and inclusivity, Coca-Cola wanted to make a very public declaration of their beliefs ‘No matter who you are or who you love, all couples should be treated equally.’

Being such a large, iconic brand, we believed expressing our point of view would go some way toward normalizing saying ‘yes’ to love. We saw handing over the real estate on our ubiquitous packs as a cost-effective way to reach maximum exposure in minimum time.

This really was not the time for us to sit on our hands, as Coca-Cola South Pacific Design lead Ian Swanson explains – “Coca-Cola is for people, it’s for everyone – the human race in all its diversity. This was an opportunity to use our iconic packaging to express a simple, strong, critical idea.”


Although often appropriated by popular culture to spell all manner of things - Coke’s iconic Spencerian Script logo had never been used by the brand itself to spell anything other than ‘Coca-Cola’ on its packaging in the 131 years of its existence.

So the decision to replace ‘Coca-Cola’ with ‘Love’ was not taken lightly.

The Australian team worked around the clock with the global design team in Atlanta, utilising the different time zones to crunch the usual product design timeline down from 18 months to just over a week.

The loop on the ‘O’ and the added loop on to the ‘V’ gave us the perfect opportunity to embed two simple hearts which allowed our design to visualize love as well as grammatically spell the word. Incorporating the LGBTQI rainbow in one of the hearts added relevance to Australia’s Same Sex Marriage debate as the cans were distributed across Australia.


This campaign exceeded all objectives. However we were most impressed by its contribution to brand love.

Brand love is one of the most important performance indicators for Coca-Cola. ‘Brand love’ is a critical metric for the brand and is credited with contributing to 47% of all choice-driven Coke sales (i.e. Channels where Coke competes directly with other brands)* This means that if we can improve brand love scores, we can improve Coke TM sales.

Therefore, we wanted to understand how much effort (media investment) was required to increase brand love scores through a cause-based approach as it compares to one of our biggest campaigns for the year, summer.

So, what did we learn? Typically, a Coke summer campaign increases brand love by 3.9% whereas our Marriage Equality campaign increased brand love by 9.5%. That equates to a 245% increase in brand love by putting our brand behind a social cause.

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