The Ultimate Takeover

How The Coca-Cola Company supported the Hungarian Red Cross through Covid-19

Andrea Kovács, Senior Strategic Planner,  July, 2020 · 5 min read

Just as Covid-19 was appearing in Hungary The Coca-Cola Company decided to pause their commercial advertising activities and focus on supporting people through the pandemic. Locally our clients chose to actively participate in helping people so they handed over their communication channels, the time and resources of their own team and their agencies to the Hungarian Red Cross. As a communications planner it is one of the most challenging tasks to start to communicate a new brand from one day to another, especially in a crisis situation. Even though it was challenging, this project brought a sense of purpose in our lives while staying in lockdown. It also brought fantastic people together to act as one.

Why was this the ultimate takeover?

If you have ever suggested a social media takeover in a project then most probably you are familiar with the biggest concern as to what a stranger might do to the integrity of your brand. It’s a flight risk, so you have to work closely with your collaborators to build brand values, maintain coherence and avoid reputation issues.

In our case the ultimate takeover went down in the midst of a nightmare in only a few days and affecting not one brand, but the entire Coca-Cola brand portfolio.

We welcomed the Hungarian Red Cross to Coca-Cola, Fanta, Fuze Tea, Cappy and Naturaqua channels. Our task was to build brand relevance for the Hungarian Red Cross in our already exiting communities. So in this takeover project being in control wasn’t our concern as we were working closely together with Hellenic Bottling Company and The Coca-Cola Company on creating content for these channels.

The challenge was to stay relevant and provide real help while not making any mistakes, as the smallest one would have caused a backlash for all the brands.

Let brand equity guide you to stay relevant in your communities

Most of the world was in the same shoes and everyone was on the edge talking about the same issues. In this situation it is easy to simply disappear in the ocean of communication or slip and do something irrelevant or wrong for people.

We decided that during this take over we will insist no matter what, to the one thing that for us is the most valuable: our communities.

We wanted to help people in a relevant way, so they can truly profit from what we do. We took our brand portfolio, laid out all of our brands’ purposes and its audiences so we could find concordance amongst the functions of the Hungarian Red Cross and the needs of our brand communities. This unison gave us the confidence that what we do will be helpful and welcomed on our channels.

Provide real help every step of the way

When a brand supports a social cause it is fundamental to act not just to communicate. Besides Coca-Cola’s donations we strove to turn each and every piece of communication into an act as well. This is why influencer content lead with examples for the youth about how to help the elderly. Pamkutya one of the most famous Youtubers in Hungary helped their elderly friend, Hide the Pain Harold with shopping, exercising at home etc. Branded video content helped teenagers cope with stress by inviting professionals and relatable influencers into our online talkshow series. Each and every social media post was thoroughly researched and reviewed to provide novel and widely useful information about the issues of Covid-19.

The Hungarian Red Cross TV commercial by The Coca-Cola Company featuring influencers Hide the Pain Harold and Pamkutya

Steer clear of any mistakes to avoid backlash

In a heightened sense of fear, the smallest error or inaccuracy can drive people mad and evoke an outcry against a brand. And here we were taking not one but 5 brands to unknown territory by shifting the entire communication for a social cause about a pandemic that months later we are still just trying to figure out. Back in March, we quickly educated ourselves about the international pandemic practices and lockdown principles. We began to read through the constant influx of information on Covid-19 from organizations all over the world. And then read again, ask lots of questions, research and review every material with the help of our brilliant colleagues at the Hungarian Red Cross. Despite our thorough work, the social media team still faced slight repercussions. I am confident that we did a great job altogether and both the Hungarian Red Cross and our brands remained intact in the process.

In under 3 Months we created tremendous content and garnered hundreds of thousands of views. We successfully raised positive sentiments in our communities and our efforts were welcomed throughout our channels. The Hungarian Red Cross also highlighted that the approach we took to help teenagers was ground breaking and they will try to keep elements of it in their work for the future.
Our world is different now than it was only a few months ago. An article of a takeover in communication would have been something different. It would have been about a great adventure for a brand that allowed itself to immerse into an exciting experience with a new guide. Instead it became a part of a somewhat life altering experience as Covid took over the world and we all put our best foot forward in an effort to help our communities.

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