Thousands of people walk past Sydney’s Kings Cross billboard every day. If they were looking up this week, they would’ve seen something a little different: graffiti and rainbows. And if they were looking in the fridge, they might just have seen a new Coke can, too.
Australia is currently participating in a postal survey on marriage equality. Coca-Cola has long believed in the power of bringing people together. No matter who you are or who you love, all couples should be treated equally.
”Equality and diversity are hugely important to who we are as a brand and as a company. This was an opportunity to demonstrate our long term position in a way that was relevant to our local community,” said Coca-Cola South Pacific marketing manager Jacqui O’Donnell.
To coincide with the start of the postal survey, the team transformed the iconic Kings Cross sign and released a limited run of special edition cans emblazoned with the word, LOVE. “The idea was very simple, but was a powerful way to support everyone who drinks, distributes and sells our brand,” said Jacqui.
The billboard previously read ‘Say YES To The Taste You Love’ as one of the hero pieces in the Coca-Cola No Sugar campaign. With some creativity and handy paintwork, the local team made a few adjustments to proudly announce ‘We Say YES To Love.
The original campaign on the Coca-Cola Kings Cross billboard, left, and the updated version, right. Artwork credit: Rudi de Wet.
In Australia the idea was born out of a small, passionate team at Coca-Cola who kept their eye on the issue and kept the global design team informed of the status.
So, once it was announced that the postal vote would go ahead, the pre-prepared global teams swung into action to help bring the pack idea to life
Within 24 hours global vice president of design James Sommerville was swapping sketches via text message with his colleagues in Australia, with each team working while the other slept.
“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,” he said.
“The first thing we did was look for things that are instantly recognisable as Coca-Cola for the consumer. In the negative space where the ‘o’ loops around, we saw an obvious opportunity to include the shape of a heart which we filled with the pride flag,” he said.
This design is the first time in 130 years Coca-Cola has used its iconic Spenserian script for something other than its logo on packaging.
Global design team sketched out the love cans, working with the Australian team across timezones.
It’s not the first time the Australian market has been able to try something a little different. The Share a Coke campaign took the world by storm and showed how this kind of activity can work.
“This kind of project is almost a designer’s dream,” said James. “It’s not playing safe. It was a perfect opportunity for us to work with the Australian team on something close to our hearts.”
“I take a huge lead from reactions I get from my small social media following. This shot to the number one on my feed. It was amazing to see such a massive reaction, so positive and so fast. A great moment can happen in a short space of time and I’m proud of the team who came up with the idea, and proud personally,” he said.
The new pack designs became a reality in record time. Within two days there was a confirmed design, and Coca-Cola Amatil finished printing the cans five days after that.
“The team moved mountains to make it happen, we believed it was the right thing to do,” said Jacqui. "The positive response has blown us away."
“I’m incredibly proud of the company for advocating such a great cause and proud of our people for getting behind it with the passion and the drive that they have” she said.
Each can is now on its way into the world with a tiny rainbow heart as a reminder that we #SayYesToLove.