Complex communication support of Bonaqua environmental initiatives
In 2012, as part of company’s environmental policy the Coca-Cola launched a separate program for its bottled water brand.
Environmental issues are not among the most popular topics in Russia so in order to draw attention to the efforts of Bonaqua brand, it was crucial to find a vivid metaphor of fresh water preservation. As a result Lake Baikal was chosen. It is an important water object and attracts particular interest outside local and regional context.
Agency’s challenge was to provide comprehensive communication support of the environmental projects that company implements in the Baikal region: attract public attention to the problem, showcase an input that Bonaqua has on water resources preservation, and secure leading positions for brands’ environmental initiatives in Russia.
As it was quite obvious that brand activities for pure water resources preservation in general won’t attract significant consumer interest, communication message was built around the idea of saving a specific object, that has importance for people in Russia. According to the results of focus groups Lake Baikal was one of them.
Agency developed a communication program “Bonaqua for clean future of Lake Baikal”, based on the fact that individual responsibility can have more impact on the issue than the efforts of the government and company’s efforts. The key task of the communication campaign was to make Baikal closer to everyone.
Selecting a reputable industry partner has a great role in forming trust to company’s social responsibility programs. In this case it was a collaboration with UN Development Programme. National Geographic magazine and channel – leading specialized media platforms, were chosen as information partners of the campaign.
This project also had to havean ambassador”. Agency invited Nikolai Drozdov – a well-known ecology expert and a man with impeccable reputation who is above all that is very loved and respected in Russia.
An announcement conference for “Bonaqua for clean future of Lake Baikal” program was held in May 2012. Among speakers were: a Director of External Relations and Communications of Coca-Cola in Russia Anna Kozlovskaya, Head of the International Project Every Drop Matters (EDM) UN Development Programme on Water Management Bogachan Benli and Head of Public Ecological Organization “Turka” UNDP grantee Tatiana Tivikova (Ulan-Ude). In her speech, that highlighted specific examples, she showcased main principles and program performance indicators.
Blogs and social media were among other strategic communication channels. To improve campaign efficiency, it was important to talk about program not on behalf of the brand, but spread the message through those whom this community trusts – well-known bloggers. To make sure they are not just observers but active participants they had an opportunity to shoot some photos that later became part of an exhibition.
The photo exhibition “Bonaqua for clean future of Lake Baikal” was shown in ten cities across Russia, from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. Forty images with spectacular views of Lake Baikal were part of the exhibit, half of them were provided by National Geographic, and the rest were taken by bloggers during their photo expedition to the east coast of Lake Baikal earlier that year. While working on organizing those exhibits agency was able to gain support from local administrations. That cooperation added a more formal status to the project and helped to attract visitors and gain additional attention of local media.
In July and August 2012, agency organized two press trips to Baikal (for glossy and general interest media). Journalists learned about the inner structure and interaction of all participants of “Bonaqua for a clean future of Lake Baikal” program, they also took part in a “spring cleaning” event, where alongside with volunteers they collected garbage and trash left by tourists and locals on a lakeside and surrounding area. A special roundtable was organized in a village Maksimikha, located on the lake shore. It was attended by representatives of Coca-Cola company, UNDP and CIC “Fringe”, the local operator of the project, who together with UNDP are responsible for project selection and distribution of small grants. During the roundtable representatives of grantee organizations were able to share with reporters their work at Baikal and tell them more about the role Bonaqua plays in these activities.
2012 was only the beginning of a long-term environmental program curated by Bonaqua. The aim for that year was to inform people about the program and share brand’s vision of the cause. As a result of agency’s activities during the campaign total media coverage resulted in more than 300 publications, including 23 story on television, 63 publications in print, 5 publications on federal news agencies and more than 200 publications in the online media. In addition, the program has been mentioned in more than 250 blog posts.
Number of contacts gained from media coverage approached 80 million, which is more than half of Russia’s population. Around 5 million people in 10 cities visited a photo exhibition.
Research by Coca-Cola in late 2012 revealed that 78% of its consumers believe that the support of the charity project distinguishes the brand from its competitors (brand becomes more attractive for purchase); 70 % of consumers are willing to do cash contribution to the program, supported by the company; 80% of consumers support the charitable initiatives of the company. Thus, the promotion of the brand Bonaqua as the main activist of preserving the purity of Lake Baikal strengthens the credibility of the brand and encourages the purchase.
The entire 2012 program has proven its effectiveness and affirmed Coca-Cola company and the agency to continue expanding and developing the program and its communication support in the future.