Coca-Cola today launched its first-ever podcast featuring candid conversations with executives from across North America. Produced by employees primarily for employees, “Total Refresh” will provide a peek behind the curtain of an evolving business through interviews with leaders like Coca-Cola North America President Jim Dinkins.
Seven 20-minute episodes will unbottle Coke’s grow story and ongoing journey to become a total beverage company. First up is a chat with Shane Grant, president of the Stills beverage business for Coca-Cola North America, who shares how the company is “Embracing a Challenger Mindset” in categories like water, active hydration/sports drinks, tea and coffee. The episode is now available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
“As our company responds to shifting consumer demands by expanding our beverage offerings, we wanted to know what these strategic changes mean for our business, and importantly, for employees here in North America,” explained Katherine Cherry, “Total Refresh” producer and co-host. “We saw this as an opportunity for our leaders to create new connections with employees and reintroduce themselves in a refreshingly honest way. And all through the lens of our ‘total beverage company’ strategy and the growth behaviors driving our company’s cultural shift: curiosity, empowerment, iteration and inclusivity."
No Scripts Here
The interviews explore each executive’s career path, leadership style and lives outside the office. Nothing was scripted, leaders were not briefed, and no questions were off the table.“
In order for our business to thrive and achieve our growth aspirations, our leaders have to both lead with vision and effectively be part of a working team,” said Jamal Booker, Cherry’s co-host and Coca-Cola communications colleague. “We hope employees come away from each episode with a sense that these leaders at one point faced some of the same challenges they’re currently facing. We tried to dig into each leader’s personal story and understand their decision-making processes at different points in their career.”
The casual nature of the recording process put the leaders at ease, yielding an intimate and transparent dialogue. “Talking to Katherine and me in the recording booth sets a much different tone than if they were onstage in front of an audience,” Booker added.
Reaching Employees and Consumers
Podcasts are the perfect medium for companies like Coca-Cola to reach employees “from a place of authenticity and transparency,” according to Michelle Khouri of FRQNCY Media Co., Coke’s agency partner for the project. “The best corporate podcasts are unafraid to get real,” she said. “With ‘Total Refresh,’ Coke employees can get to know their leaders and connect in an entirely new way.”
Reaching employees of Coke’s 68 independent bottlers across the U.S. is a top priority. “If you think about how we’ve traditionally hosted conversations as a bottling system, we usually host a Coca-Cola leader to one location for a “Town Hall” style meeting and webcast the presentation to employees,” Cherry said. "Not everyone works in front of a computer or has regular access to emails or webcasts. But a Coke truck driver in Texas can listen to a podcast as they’re on the highway, while other employees may tune in while they’re commuting, play it in the background while working, or at home cooking dinner or at the gym.”
“Total Refresh” complements Coca-Cola North America’s arsenal of internal channels, Cherry said.
“We’re looking at all employee-facing communications through the lens of inclusivity,” she concluded. “There’s a medium for everyone. Podcasting is something our company has not yet explored, so we see it as ripe for testing-and-learning. It’s a great opportunity to appeal to colleagues who are regular podcast listeners and foster a gateway to the larger ecosystem of auditory learning."