In my first article of this content series, I wrote about how “being heard” over all the noise in media has become a C-level issue. With the volume of content available and the multitude of channels in which to consume it, reaching consumers is more difficult than ever. The best companies win by creating excellent, engaging content that rises to the top – content consumers want to engage with and share.

Ashley Brown
Ashley Brown, Group Director, Digital Communications and Social Media, Coca-Cola

Few brands do this better than Coca-Cola. The brand’s Journey site acts as a sort of branded magazine, showcasing stories that complement the brand’s values of spreading happiness.

Ashley Brown, Coke’s Group Director, Digital Communications and Social Media, oversees this content creation and distribution at the brand-turned-publisher. We asked Ashley for some insights into Coke’s success.

Read part one of this series here. Part two, on letting customers guide content creation, is here.

Why is the quality of content today more important than ever?

Ashley: People have more places to get information today than ever before. And the democratization of publishing means that high-quality content is more important than ever. Information is no longer bounded by geography.

What defines great marketing content? What makes a story worth reading/ sharing?

Emotion. News stories always have some form of tension – it is, after all, news. Brand stories are different, and we have to be vigilant to make sure our content has heart and is valuable in some way – either explicitly or intrinsically.

In your recent article, you wrote that “Every day is election day,” and “the corporate website is dead.” Can you expand on those ideas?

Every day, brands wage a campaign against their opponent to get people, you and me, to vote for them by buying their product. Except for us, every day is election day. We have to win every day. Ultimately, the corporate website is a relic from a different era. Most are full of stuff that gets published because people think it should be on the web. Most of those statements, releases, policies, etc. attract very little attention, and with a few exceptions, I don’t think it was ever very useful as a communications tool. Every part of communications should be open to evolution, and we think that includes the corporate website.

How can companies learn what gets their audience interested? How has Coca-Cola learned from customers to create better content over time?

It starts with just taking a hard look at what they’re reading, and what they’re searching for. Too often brand sites are libraries for what companies want to talk about and filing cabinets for press releases. That’s not brand-building content. Great content is informed by paying attention to what your consumers read, share, comment on, and even copy.

From my article:

“The stories our readers loved surprised us month after month, and the stories we thought they would love fell flat. It was the digital equivalent of a star candidate polling below expectations.

What followed was a veritable editorial scramble. Six months in, we took a two-week break and dug into the data.

Within weeks we launched food and music channels, a jobs filter for the home page, and made more than 60 tweaks to the site design. Coca-Cola Unbottled got a whole new look, resulting in a 106% increase in page views driven by a jaw-dropping 1,247% increase in Unbottled home page visits.”

What is your favorite recent content campaign from Coke? How did you tell that story across multiple channels – online, social, TV, etc.?

Definitely Small World Machines, which we launched this year exclusively on Coca-Cola Journey and social media. Well produced, emotionally powerful and a simple concept. It’s a top favorite for quite a few people here at Coke.


We are huge fans of the work Coca-Cola does. The brand is a leader in making content a priority – and every brand can learn from their example. Thanks to Ashley for sharing his insights.

Read part one of this series – on the need for C-level attention to great content – here. Part two, on letting customers guide content creation, is here.


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