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Coca-Cola Light: Public Relations and Marketing


Public relations (PR) is one of the tools used by marketers to inform potential consumers about a product and its characteristics. The communications process is concerned with the dissemination of stimuli and their perception, impact, use, and effectiveness. Coca-Cola Light is a sugar-free, low caloricity beverage. For this product, marketing communications have meaning to the extent that an individual’s predisposition or experience permits him to see, hear, or read them.

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Target market and A Customer

Coca-Cola is a family brand that involves such global and national brands as Crystal, DASANI, Freskyta, Nagomi, etc. In general, there are more than four hundred different brands owned or used under the license of Coca-Cola. Coca Cola target market consists of consumers from different backgrounds and professions, different social classes, and of both genres. Coca-Cola is oriented toward health-conscious consumers who value a unique image and healthy lifestyle. Two predisposition factors govern the relationship between a message and its recipient. These are the sender set and the customer set (Pelsmacker and Kitchen 2004). The former includes media, appeal, advertiser, copy, theme, and layout. The latter, containing the individual differences of people and their psychological, social, and economic situations, intervenes between the sender and the receiver of marketing information. The goal of this strategy is to create an authentic experience that allows customers to identify with the brand completely on a rational and emotional level. It springs from the company’s desire to create a genuine relationship that is built on actual company beliefs backed up by consistent actions, values that shape the personality attributes displayed by the brand (Coca-Cola Home Page 2008).

Buyer behavior includes reactions to marketing measures. A reaction may be influenced by opinions and preferences, which, in fact, shape consumption. Both opinions and preferences are acquired and not inherited-they must be learned. The household that shapes the learning of tastes and preferences is a very influential force in personal consumption (Botan. 1992). As a result of past experience, Coca-Cola customers have preconceived notions or attitudes that shape their view of reality and hence their decisions. For example, experience with Coca Cola Diet that meets expectations results in future purchasing actions since learning takes place. Reinforcement, which is part of the learning process, encourages repetition and perhaps an automatic response-purchase by habit (Wells et al., 2005; Public Relations Society of America, 2006).

Public Relations

The main channels of communication will involve TV programs, press releases and conferences, online communities, and radio. Press conferences will help to inform potential clients about recent developments and innovations, about the future directions and strategy of the company. Newsletters will inform all clients about recent changes and innovations applied by the company. This information will help to create an image as a unique brand (Botan. 1992). This can be an extremely effec­tive strategy for defending market position and obtaining above-average finan­cial returns; unique products often command a premium price. This marketing strategy will help to deliver customer value in a way that clearly distinguishes the product from the Coca-Cola brand. It is not only the message but also the way in which it is presented that results in communications. Both the source of the communication and the message itself can influence the reactions of the recipient. Credible sources tend to get better acceptance. Audience characteristics are also important in determining what is communicated. People select what they watch or hear. The result is selective exposure followed by selective perception and retention (Evans et al. 2004).

TV programs will affect the imagination of consumers and create a certain image of the new product. Communications that agree with predispositions are more likely to be heard than those that do not. This self-selection can be either deliberate or subconscious. As audiences also misinterpret messages by evading or misperceiving those that counter their predispositions, communications are most effective when they reinforce existing inclination (Harris, 1998). Messages are interpreted or decoded and hence conditioned by the predispositions of potential consumers. For instance, the actual physical shape of a product, its color, or the choice of words in the promotion condition the effectiveness of the communications. Educational levels also affect the impact of media; the lesser-educated rely more on pictures and aural media and the higher more on print. Psychologists call these intervening variables. The impact of a message on consumer behavior, which is governed by intervening variables, determines its marketing effectiveness. Since companies cannot control the personality of recipients, the environment in which messages are relayed, the environments surrounding responses, the group norms, and the relationships of individuals to groups, they have difficulty in assuring effective communications (Fill, 1999).

Radio will be used because it still remains one of the most important channels of communication. Many people listen to the radio while driving or sitting in a café during launch time. This channel of communication can essentially reinforce rather than change consumer attitudes and opinions. Such forces as group norms, interpersonal relations, the perception, retention, and selective exposure of individuals, and the impact of opinion leaders, are extremely influential. Individuals tend to reinforce their existing positions by selecting communications items that cohere with previous stances and by filtering out conflicting information (Harris, 1998). As a result, the greater the disparity between a communicator’s claims and the communicatee’s predispositions, the greater is the change in attitude required and the less likely is the message to be effective. Effective market communication requires an integrated promotional system that reaches from primary producer to ultimate consumer. Communications flow to markets through long, complex channels that include manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, consumers, agencies, and media. Each unit can break the chain or pass on the information as it sees fit. The amount and quality of information, therefore, depends on the channel (The Institute of Public Relations 2006).

The online community is important for a new campaign because it will help to attract a young target audience and teens, busy professionals, and Internet users from all over the world. Publicity, which is an integral part of many promotional campaigns and sometimes precedes the advertising and sales effort, lies outside them. Although it can be important in gaining market acceptance for products and companies, publicity, like word of mouth, is often a relatively low-grade communications channel with a high degree of interference, distortion, and noise. Marketing communications serve four basic management purposes (The Institute of Public Relations 2006). First, the online community will bridge information gaps existing among manufacturers, middlemen, and customers. Second, the online community will help coordinate the promotional activities of the total marketing system to achieve a coordinated thrust. Third, the online community will help adjust the system to the customer and consumer requirements. Fourth, it will adjust and help in adjusting the product to customer needs.

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Messages and Their Impact on the Target Market

Public relations will inform the potential target audience about the product and its advantages. Promotional messages are meeting increasing competition from a plethora of other ads, from other media, from competitors, and from all the activities that vie for a person’s attention (Public Relations Society of America 2006). As output swells and communications facilities increase, more claims will be made on consumer time, and the cost of marketing communications will skyrocket. Moreover, a saturation plateau may be reached where larger expenditures yield proportionately smaller returns. Both advertising and selling provide communications with mass markets. But advertising furnishes a one-way channel, and selling can be two-way. Advertising is set, standardized, less adjustable, and impersonal. Personal selling can be tailored to individual situations at a cost (Kleidl, 2001).

From the consumer’s standpoint, PR informs and persuades. It furnishes information, calls attention to some clues and not others, changes attitudes and opinions, relates products to consumer needs, gives consumers support for their decisions, affects the intensity of desires, and thereby generates action (Kleidl, 2001). The nature of advertising tasks is indicated by the decisions that must be made: the amount of money to be spent on advertising, the allocation of the budget among classes of media, the specific media to be selected within each class, the frequency and continuity of ads, the makeup of the specific messages to be presented, and the kinds and amount of advertising research. These are difficult decisions to make. For instance, management is faced with the decision of whether to advertise in markets where sales are high or low. Absolute decision guides are lacking, but fragmentary information may exist (Pelsmacker and Kitchen 2004).


The role of PR in the marketing mix varies with the product and its stage of development. For a new product launch, PR compresses time horizons for the acceptance of products and facilitates the introduction of new products. PR also helps create and maintain marketing systems. It can foster interfirm coordination and linkages of manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. For the marketing task is not complete with the sale of the product, satisfied customers must be retained. Reaffirmation of consumer choice is important. Continued advertising after purchase gives the customer public acknowledgment of his wise choice and tends to eliminate or reduce cognitive dissonance. The customer is reassured and resold. Repeat business is the avenue to continued success PR often the course to repeat business.


Botan. C. 1992, “International Public Relations: Critique and reformulation”, Public Relations Review 19, #2, Summer pp. 150-151.

Evans, Martin, O’Malley, L., and Patterson, M., 2004, Exploring Direct & Customer Relationship Marketing, 2nd edition, London: Thomson.

Fill, C. 1999, Marketing Communication: Contexts, Contents, and Strategies 2 edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Harris, T. 1998, Value-Added Public Relations: The Secret Weapon of Integrated Marketing. McGraw-Hill.

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The Institute of Public Relations 2006, Web.

Kleid, B.A. 2001, Strategic Electronic Marketing: Managing Business, Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing.

Pelsmacker, P., Kitchen, P.J. 2004. Integrated Marketing Communications: A Primer. Routledge.

Public Relations Society of America. 2006, Web.

Wells, W.P., Moriarty, S., Burnett, J. 2005, Advertising: Principles and Practice. Prentice-Hall; 7 edn.

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