Coca-Cola on Facebook (2012) Harvard Business School Case (Deighton and Kornfeld)
In late 2008, executives at Coca-Cola had to decide what to do with a fan-created page on Facebook that had amassed over one million followers in three months. From a legal point of view the fan-created page was in violation of Facebook’s terms of service, because a non-copyright holder was using the imagery and logo associated with a known brand. Facebook contacted Michael Donnelly, Group Director, Worldwide Interactive Marketing for The Coca-Cola Company, to let him know that he was in the position to take down the hugely popular fan-created site or, conversely, he could take it over and make it an official marketing channel for the company. Coke was already revisiting its social media policies, with the Diet Coke and Mentos user-generated video incident fresh in its memory. Those videos, which featured elaborate geysers with Diet Coke as their main ingredient, were among the most viewed online videos at the time but were not initially sanctioned by the company. Donnelly knew that opening up the brand to creative consumers was necessary, but he and his team had to figure out how and to what extent they should do so while still protecting one of the world’s most valuable brands.