Put Your Customer on the Product


Lately, I’ve highlighted the various ways companies (and even colleges) are putting their customers in their ads by using social personalization or other means. In Australia, Coke took the idea one step farther, and put customer names directly on its product:

Australians can pick up a personalised bottle or can at a supermarket, or get their name printed on a can of Coke for free at one of 18 Westfield Shopping Centres. At select outdoor sites, such as Kings Cross in Sydney, the names of passers-by will be projected on to the billboard via SMS. People will also be able to download one of 150 ‘name songs’, produced in partnership with Southern Cross Austereo. [Via Mumbrella.]

Coca Cola Australia Name Bottles
Here’s a video highlighting the “Share a Coke” campaign:

Sharing is Caring

The theme of the Coca Cola name promotion is “sharing.” This is potentially a strong branding tool – by sharing a named bottle with another person, the customer is using the Coke brand to strengthen a social link. Assuming that the recipient doesn’t throw the bottle back at the giver, the gift will create an association between the brand, the pleasant emotional lift, and the relationship.

Less Obvious: Ego Stroking

In discussing personalized ads, we looked at the “doppelganger effect” – the increase in brand preference caused by the customer seeing an image of himself using the product. This Coke campaign may benefit from another effect researchers have documented, “implicit egotism.” The latter effect is a demonstrated preference for things “like oneself.” It has been used to explain name-based behaviors and preferences.

Seeing the branded product linked with her name, the consumer should feel a twinge of preference for that brand that might last even after the product has been consumed or dropped out of sight.

What’s on YOUR Product?

Instead of giving customers and prospects swag items like coffee mugs or mouse pads, consider giving them a product sample with their name on it. If the product is large or expensive, would a model be feasible? (Perhaps a toy Lexus rather than the real thing?) If you sell a service, is there some item representative of your service that could incorporate your brand and the customer’s name?

Attaching the customer’s name to a product won’t be practical in every situation, but if your product is right for it, this strategy is definitely worth a test. It appears that Coca Cola got a lot of buzz out of their Australian campaign and perhaps converted a few more lifetime Coke drinkers!

Have you tried product personalization? Can you think of a clever way to try it out? Let your fellow Neuromarketing readers know below!

  1. Monica says

    Great post! This strategy definitely works! Heineken also uses it, in their Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. You can get bottles that you design, with your name or your face on it.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Very cool campaign by Heineken, Monica, thanks!


  2. Brendon B Clark says

    Interesting stuff thanks Roger.

    Back when I was in print, we were then personalizing distance learning material with demographic information we had. It was much more powerful for students when they read their name, or street, or suburb, in the middle of course notes.

    Naturally, they would call their friends also, which engaged them in the material even further. Same for enrolment material. Online application forms turned into fully pesonalized admission booklets, tailored around your choices, with images that represented you. Better conversion rate from applications to confirmed study.

    There was a limit though, at which point it became gimmicky rather than useful, but powerful wen done well.


  3. Ingrid Cliff says

    The Coke strategy worked well here in Australia – it became the “cool” thing for teens to turn up at school or other events with cans with their names on them. People even gave them as gifts for Christmas.

    But there was one down side to all this joy. The poor retailers went crazy! Most stores found their Coke displays systematically trashed numerous times per day as people sifted through the cans and bottles to find the right name. I suspect they breathed a collective sigh of relief when the campaign ended!

  4. Shweta Dhawan says

    Thanks for this interesting post ,it was indeed very helpful in marketing project. Its an amazing marketing gimmick.

  5. Robert says

    This reminds me a lot of one of Dale Carnegie’s points in How to Win Friends and Influence People–people love to be recognized by their own names.

    So instead of addressing someone by their name verbally, marketers who are employing this strategy are helping to bridge the gap between individual and product through a gesture.

    “Here’s my product, and look, I put your name on it.” It’s two becoming one.

  6. Chris Ford says

    While trying to educate myself on the basics neuroscience, I came across your post for the Share a Coke campaign which I worked on while Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy Sydney. At the time we were asked to so something to ‘own summer’ and help Coke reconnect with teens. Our guts said putting people’s names on cans and bottles could be effective on a number of levels and it’s been fun to read here what neuroscience factors may have played into its success. Thanks for the post.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Thanks for stopping by, Chris, and sharing that! Great campaign, has it spread to any other areas?


  7. Andrew L O says

    Guys, the idea has been done! Think of something new!

  8. Chris Ford says


    Love to hear about the other brand that put 200 names on cans and bottles of an iconic brand with a team of one millon lawyers and a creative crushing brand standards guide thicker than the Oxford English. Or about the other brand that printed 200,000+ custom made cans of their product with any name their customer wanted.

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