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“I can’t find my name on any bottle of Coke, so I’m not buying Coca-Cola anymore”

This is a friend, Seyi , expressing her acute displeasure that a name as common and popular as Seyi hasn’t been found on a bottle of Coke (by her) yet. She is distraught, perplexed and bewildered leaving her with one question in mind. Does Coca Cola truly care?  Oh trust me; there are many others like Seyi out there in the cold dreary unloved world of fizzy drinks.

The Coke company first launched its personalized brand campaign tagged “Share a Coke in Australia in 2011. Coca-Cola replaced its popular logo with the common names in that region, which led to a considerable increase in Coke consumption. Over the years the campaign was filtered out to other countries, getting to Nigeria in late 2014. But judging by the grievances of many Nigerians, the success story recorded in other countries might just be in doubt in the most populous black nation on earth

The campaign tag ‘Share a Coke ‘in its realest, truest literal sense is a pole apart from the message being received. The perception is that the drink has taken on a personal outlook with consumers having their names branded on the bottles and cans. Coca-Cola also drives this home with their social media frolics where fans are asked to share a shot of them holding a bottle of coke customized with their names.

So where in this whole fuzzy grey realm does the word “sharing “come in? If I’m to share a Coke with Adaeze, would it not be more realistic to have Adaeze seated across me while we derive sweet pleasure from that one bottle of Coke. It’s pretty evident that the ‘sharing ‘tag was added to dampen the dissatisfaction of certain addicts cum fans who aren’t (YES, NEVER!!!) going to find their names on any bottle of Coke no matter how hard they search. Even the concept of virtual sharing lends no credence to “Share a Coke”. Coca-Cola should kindly miss us with this entire wily ‘care-bear’ stunt.

The campaign essence serves to create a theoretical subjective connection between the brand and its consumer’s thereby increasing revenue margins for the brand. Astonishingly brilliant move right there! Currently, one of the top five good feelings an individual might align with this very day is to see his/her name on a bottle of Coke. Believe it or not, this place, these days, as a Nigerian, the little joys do go a long way. We won’t deny the fact that there’s just this feel-good special candor to it.

The consumer will be eager to go all lengths to find that one branded customized bottle but would the seller be willing to go that extra mile. The market environment in Nigeria is an endless power tussle between the buyer and the seller, a competition to see who is the most aggressive or intimidating.

“Eze walks into a shop to get a bottle of Coke; the seller gives him an Iyabo – branded bottle. Eze declines because Iyabo was his first love who later dumped him for his best friend. Given a pole, he’d still not touch it. Alright, Madam Coke shoves an Usman branded bottle in Eze’s face. He declines still because Usman was that classmate in primary school who included his name in the list of noise makers. More bottles are brought out, yet Eze can’t find a relatable bottle. On the other hand Madam Coke is  livid, impatient and suddenly she’s had enough. She snaps at Eze, there’s an exchange of bitter words, Eze leaves angry, Madam Coke with fumes proceeding from her facial pores is poised and all coiled like a cobra for the next buyer who would regrettably attempt that same drivel.

Amusing scenario right?  A multiple incidence of which there can be no denial. Now what becomes the fate of the not so few folks who can’t connect with that feeling? Who or what do the abandoned run to for succor? Let’s not repudiate as well the mental import that comes with knowing that cherished name of yours is not just good enough to be branded on a bottle of Coke nor shared with anyone. Until you make an effort anyway. Yes, there’s actually a site one can log on to order for specially personalized coke bottles. But why? Why do we have to throw ourselves shamelessly and wantonly at Coca-Cola to be loved, while others have it so easy? Who possesses the time for such? This is prejudicial, discriminatory, inhumane and unfair.

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Gist is the campaign would only last a few months before Coke brings back its logo which is just as well *shrugs*. But if the reverse is the case, well ladies and gentlemen, we just might have an impending Coke crisis on our hands. The COCAPOCALYPSE I call it. Allow me break this down.

There it is a bottle of Coke with the name Orienoghenewhogaga (insert extraordinary ethnic name herein) on it. Not Oghene, not Orien, not Gaga, but ORIENOGHENEWHOGAGA. There are five Orienoghenewhogagas in the room, there are husbands whose wives are Orienoghenewhogaga, there are mothers whose children are Orienoghenewhogaga, present are aunts, uncles, fiancés with the same peculiar interest in that one bottle. So who goes home with the bottle bearing in mind that this apparently might be the only Coke bottle branded with that name in the country.  Does it go the highest bidder? *smirks* Nah! Not in my beloved fatherland. Sharp dives will be made for the bottle. Legs sprained, teeth leaving bites marks, head gears flung into the distance , total wretched pandemonium everywhere until this poor bottle is smashed or split open and none gets it. Only workable solution. The only. And this is just the mildest COCAPOCALYPSE depiction.

A trip to the vast marts and malls in Lagos should give one an inkling of what is to come. Persons of all ages rummaging through Coca Cola shelves which of course the malls were wise enough to set up in separate corners.  Is it gold, white diamonds or the elixir of life my fellow brethren are searching for? No! Coke it is. And if you still think it’s not that serious, then you my friend should ready thyself for a shocker.

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This is not a Nigerian thing but a human element. Nevertheless when viewed from the Nigerian aspect brings the point closer home and the typical Nigerian is weary enough as it is without adding the thoughts of a customized Coke bottle to his list of unresolved, disconcerting issues. Coca-Cola addiction is not a new experience for many and the personalization element flings the baton further.

I ask again, does coke truly care like Maltina or Gino? And if there are people out there who have found their first names, second names, third names, nick names, surnames on bottles and cans of Coke, well blessed are you for ye shall be called “Beloved”.

P.S: How much would you be willing to pay for a customized bottle of Coke with your native name if it came at an extra cost???

Photo Credit: www.twicsy.com, www.memegeneration.com