coca cola freestyle machine

How Coca-Cola Freestyle Builds Awareness and Relationships

By: Seth Arenstein

April 1, 2019

Sometimes iconic brands dictate the terms of their relationships with smaller companies. Not Coca-Cola Freestyle, the touchscreen-operated Coke dispenser seen in restaurants and cinemas. Instead, Coca-Cola Freestyle focuses on building strong, collaborative relationships with key customer partners, says its marketing director Sarah Greenberg Sachs, a speaker at The Social Shake-Up, May 6-9 in Atlanta. This focus has helped Coca-Cola quickly create awareness for the product, she says. In addition, its partners have taught the beverage company a few lessons about social.

Coca-Cola Freestyle Marketing Director Sarah Greenberg Sachs

Sarah Greenberg Sachs, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Freestyle

The Social Shake-Up team asked Greenberg Sachs to share her approach to relationship-building as it relates to the marketing function.

Social Shake-Up: You lead marketing for Coca-Cola Freestyle, the nifty fountain dispenser touch-screen we see at restaurants. What’s it like building awareness for a niche product within a powerhouse household brand like Coca-Cola? 

Sarah Greenberg Sachs: It’s been fascinating. With Coca-Cola Freestyle, we have two unique challenges: We are geographically dispersed. And we play an “ingredient brand” role within our partners’ establishments. To address the first challenge, we utilize media solutions and partners that can offer messages in specific and geo-targeted ways. To address the second, we focus on building strong and collaborative relationships with key customer partners. This helps bring the Coca-Cola Freestyle brand to life in a way that makes sense for each partner. Leveraging these strategies, we’ve been able to build significant awareness for the brand in a very short period.

SSU: Integrated marketing is a key competency in a large global company like Coca-Cola. What tips can you offer readers who are seeking to align their campaigns with PR, sales and customer service goals? How do you suggest avoiding silos? 

Greenberg Sachs: My recommendation is to build strong internal and external relationships, solicit frequent input from all partners, and remain open to new ways of thinking and executing.

SSU: How are you shaking up social media and marketing at Coca-Cola Freestyle? Any new approaches that you’re piloting this year? Lessons learned? 

Greenberg Sachs: Within Coca-Cola Freestyle, we’re keeping a close eye on key “movers and shakers” in social media to learn from them. We especially like to watch our customer partners who are making a mark in social. Brands like Wendy’s and Arby’s are creating tremendous earned value through their social activations. We want to do the same but in an authentic, Coca-Cola Freestyle way.

Susan Greenberg Sachs will share more social media marketing wisdom as part of The Social Shake-Up, May 6-8 in Atlanta.

SSU: Visual identity and design are huge parts of consumer product rollouts. How do you work with designers and creatives to ensure campaigns have the proper look and feel? 

Greenberg Sachs: The best way to get great creative is to have a tight and concise brief. Do your homework before bringing in creative teams so that you are crystal clear on what you want to achieve and whom you are targeting with your creative. A tight brief will also help you evaluate creative work in a non-emotional way (you just ask – does this meet the brief?).

SSU: What kinds of strategic partnerships have you built as part of your role at Coca-Cola? How do you improve existing relationships, or open doors to new ones? 

Greenberg Sachs: Our customer partners are critical to Coca-Cola Freestyle’s success. Because of this, we really try to understand our customers’ needs, goals, and realities so that we can become great partners in driving joint success.  

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn.

At The Social Shake-Up