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Why data (not Bobby the dog) is the real star of Share a Coke campaign

Share a Coke is back. Like me you’ve probably seen it splashed all over buses, billboards, social and maybe even watched the music video style TV ad where Bobby the dog goes in search of his personalised coke bottle. I’m not going to wax lyrical about the creative merits here, but something less sexy without which this year's campaign would not have been possible, the data strategy.

Remember last year’s Share a Coke? People talked about it – a lot – mostly positive stuff but it also had a few critics. One of the grumbles came from people whose name didn't appear on the personalised bottles.

Well, like a good 21st-century brand Coca Cola listened. With the help of data specialists in each of the 50 countries running the campaign they found the most common names among its target age group of teenagers and millennials. So they added 1,000 new names to the 2014 Share a Coke campaign.

That's where you come in. You're invited to find your name – and names of your friends and family – there are even ones with "BFF", "Star" and "Bestie". Everything in this year’s campaign is centred around you and your friends. From the playful Share a Coke microsite to the tour bus stopping off at 100 Tesco stores in the UK, there's a seamless integration of offline and online that is proving irresistible. One couple used the campaign to announce that they were expecting a baby!

Whether it's genuine or contrived doesn't matter, it's gone viral.

Back to Bobby the dog and that TV ad and a glimpse of what data will do in a few years time. Coke has teamed up with Channel 4, using its 10-million viewer database to serve up personalised ads with the viewer's name on them followed by the Bobby TV ad.

This is just the beginning of how technology can create personalised one-to-one messages that hit the right person at the right time, something I'm sure we're going to see a lot of in this year's DMA Awards Best data strategy category.

For those of you who missed the TV ad (and those who love it and want to watch it again), here it is.

By Phil Hutchison, Operations Marketing Director, at Neopost, sponsors of the Best data strategy category at the DMA Awards. A specialist in mailing solutions, Neopost offers a comprehensive suite of software and hardware to manage customer communications via mail, email and SMS.

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