As millions of people around the world heard the news of Prince George’s arrival, Coca-Cola was quick to offer up its own unique congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The morning after the birth was officially announced, commuters opening UK’s Metro newspaper were greeted with a topical and refreshing Coca-Cola ad dedicated to the royal mum and dad. The creative was shared on Facebook and Twitter almost immediately, and within 30 minutes the iconic Coca-Cola sign in central London’s Piccadilly Circus displayed a short and sweet message: “Time for a Royal Celebration. Share a Coke with Wills. Share a Coke with Kate."

Ad in Piccadilly Circus

The Coca-Cola sign in Piccadilly Circus.

“Ever since the announcement of Kate’s pregnancy, we knew it would become one of the biggest stories of the British summer and, naturally, we saw a perfect fit with our Share a Coke plans, giving us the opportunity to tap into the mood of the nation and really share a moment of happiness and celebration,” explains Chris Ross, senior brand activation manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain.

Coca-Cola was keen to react to this special occasion because of its status as a “Royal Warrant Holder” (one of the specially selected companies that provides goods and services to the royal family) and gained official approval to run the celebratory copy.

As for the timing of the ads, the Coke Great Britain team had to move fast. Although the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to hospital early on Monday, and the baby was born at 4.30 p.m., the official announcement was not made until 8.30 p.m.

To get the ad into the next morning’s paper, it had to be confirmed with Metro before 9pm. This gave the team just 30 minutes to act. They simultaneously pressed the button to post the new “Wills and Kate” creative up onto the Piccadilly Circus sign and arranged for a sampling team to hand out celebratory cans to passers-by at Piccadilly the next day.

Share a Coke with Royals campaign in Belgium

Tone was just as important as speed. “We made a purposeful decision to celebrate with Kate and Wills rather than focus on the baby or his name,” Ross adds. “This has really helped bring to life the concept of sharing, which is at the heart of the Share a Coke campaign.

Great Britain isn’t the only country in Europe with big royal news, providing more opportunities for timely Share a Coke activations. Belgium also celebrated last week, following Sunday’s official swearing-in of Crown Prince Philippe as the new king after the abdication of his father Albert II.

Coca-Cola Belgium quickly swung into action, handing out 6,000 limited-edition Share a Coke cans bearing the names De Koning and Le Roi (“King” in Flemish and French) at a busy Brussels metro stops on Sunday. The inflatable cans were snapped up by enthusiastic pedestrians, as excitement built for the swearing-in ceremony taking place that day.

And in the Netherlands, where King Willem-Alexander recently succeeded his long-serving mother Queen Beatrix as the Dutch monarch, limited-edition “King” and “Queen” Share a Coke cans were handed out along the coronation route on Queen’s Day, April 30. Giant  inflatable Coca-Cola cans bearing the message, "Share a Coke with our King (Koning) and Queen (Koningin)" also added to the fun. Awareness was fueled by social media, including this YouTube video.