This exercise is designed to give students an opportunity to develop a communications plan and press statement for The Coca-Cola Company (Coke) as it attempts to navigate the 2021 Georgia voting law controversy. Specifically, it asks students to assume the role of chief marketing and communications officer (CMCO) at Coke and recommend a communications plan, including a press statement, to fulfill their role as CMCO while living up to the brand’s purpose and values statements. This exercise helps students understand: (1) the challenge associated with making corporate communications decisions in a way that aligns with brand purpose and helps drive growth, and (2) the difficulty of navigating hot-button issues.
This exercise can be used as a stand-alone activity or as the second part in a two-part series. If used as the second part of the series on aligning brand activism, brand purpose, and growth, the case “Coca-Cola Puts Its Brand Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Aligning Activism with Brand Purpose” (UVA-M-1019) enables students to take different stakeholder perspectives and consider potential decisions. This exercise then provides an opportunity for students to activate the strategic decision made in the case as they are asked to develop an action plan and press statement for Coke.
This exercise is well suited for undergraduate, MBA, MBA for executives (EMBA), and Executive Education programs. For undergraduate students, it can be taught in a brand management, capstone marketing strategy, management communications, or a management strategy course to help students learn how challenging it is to align and implement activism and brand purpose. For MBA/EMBA students, it can be used in a first-year core marketing course or in a leadership communication, strategy, or brand management elective.