University of Southern California

USC team creates a Classic campaign for Coke
Marshall-led interdisciplinary team wins third in prestigious NSAC contest
June 18, 2007 • by David Bloom

Blending nostalgia and rite-of-passage symbolism, a USC team led by two students from the USC Marshall School of Business, placed third among more than 250 schools in a competition to create an integrated marketing-communications campaign for Coca-Cola's flagship brand, Coca-Cola Classic.

The 50-person team was led by USC Marshall's Sylvia Cardim and Noppol Thongnop, and included students from USC's Annenberg School of Communications, School of Cinematic Arts and other programs.

"Sylvia and Noppol provided singular leadership and initiative, and our high place in the standings really is a testament to their efforts," said USC Marshall Assistant Professor of Marketing Ken Wilbur, who was the team's faculty advisor. "The judging team consisted of members of Coke's senior marketing team and they were very complimentary of our efforts."

The team at USC took a slightly different approach than most other teams, Wilbur said, conducting an Archetype Discovery Session to uncover consumers' latent brand associations with Coca-Cola Classic.

The key resulting insight was that most consumers were not allowed to drink Coca-Cola as youths, Wilbur said. Their earliest memory of the brand came when an adult "bent the rules" and gave them a Coke to drink. From this, USC's team designed a comprehensive campaign with the goal of reinforcing this early brand memory, to reconnect Coke emotionally to young potential consumers.

The students are part of the Association of Integrated Marketing, the undergraduate marketing club. Teams from 255 universities competed in the National Student Advertising Competition, and the USC team won its district competition before placing third in the national finals.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.