Remember Coca-Cola's "Hilltop" ad? It was a global sensation and the quintessential example of a brand reaching and engaging customers worldwide. Fast forward to today and the world is a very different place. No longer can we use a single medium, television, to reach a captive audience. Media is fragmented and our audience has unprecedented choice and control. For modern Canadian marketers this is a challenging environment, but one rich with opportunity. Learn more about our "Golden Age of Marketing."

Written by
Marie-Josée Lamothe
May 2014

Great brand marketing moves people. And in doing so, it moves business.

In 1971, Coca-Cola ran a television spot featuring a diverse group of young people on a hilltop. "I would like to buy the world a Coke," they sang in harmony. "And keep it company."

Released at the height of the Vietnam and Cold Wars, this 60-second commercial elicited a heartfelt response from an anxious global audience. The company received more than one hundred thousand letters. The song was a top ten hit. "Hilltop" would become a defining campaign for one of the most recognizable brands on the planet.


Some things don't change. Today's successful brands make those same emotional connections with the consumer. But what has dramatically shifted is the media landscape and how consumers in this digital age make those same connections. Television, the medium behind that great Coke ad, remains very relevant today, but is no longer the dominant brand platform, as Canadians now consume more digital media than ever before, surpassing TV. More importantly, consumers have embraced the interactive, immersive and connected multi-screen world. And the brand aiming to ascend this generation's Hilltop understands the opportunity the digital landscape presents.

Digital Builds Brands

The most successful brand marketers are the ones who design campaigns with the web in mind from the outset; they recognize that their audience is increasingly online and that the digital canvas is one that is boundless and immersive. An innovative and amorous example is the Burberry Kisses campaign from the British fashion house, which allows you to send a message around the world and to seal it with an actual kiss.


Burberry connects brand and consumer with a virtual kiss.

A "kissable" display turns advertising into an intimate interaction that doesn't feel like traditional marketing. The campaign created an emotional connection between the brand and the consumer, and captured the romantic view of the world that threads its way through the British brand. Whatever a brand's development priorities might be, digital allows for finely tailored community interactions, be they educational, retail driven or even a whimsical virtual kiss. For someone in the marketing business, this equates to CRM gold.

One to One

Effective brands no longer rely solely on broadcasting to the masses, but interact directly with individual consumers. When I think of the potential to make that personal connection, I'm reminded of a tune by Arcade Fire, a band from my hometown of Montreal. In collaboration with digital artist Chris Mill and Google's Data Arts team, Arcade Fire built a beautiful digital artwork that connects one-on-one with every user. The Wilderness Downtown uses Google Street View to create a music video that revolves around the neighborhood where you grew up. It's a powerful and intimate moment that no broadcast medium could ever achieve. It's a project that builds brand awareness in a fun, accessible way that's true to the DNA of the brand—or bands, in this case.

Data and the Golden Age of marketing

Digital offers marketers a new canvas for crafting deep and engaging brand stories in an accessible manner. But the real potential of digital isn't just in the creative possibilities, it's in the data. Driving every effective campaign today is the technology to zero-in on the right audience for the brand. Campaigns can be tweaked in real-time, TV spots can be tested and honed on YouTube, and marketers can move quickly to capitalize on trends, insights and consumer behavior which can only be found online. Digital allows brands to link all their touch points from retail, to e-commerce, to CRM, to communication platforms, in one relevant brand ecosystem. For brands in search of their own "hilltop" moment, digital is helping lead the way, connecting the right consumer to the right message, at the relevant time and place.