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2019 Global Strategic Marketing Overseas Module of “21st Century Marketing”
Aug 9, 2020

Meet at the Enjoyable Class of Coca-Cola: 2019 Global Strategic Marketing Overseas Module of “21st Century Marketing”


In the midsummer, over 20 MBA teachers and students from Tsinghua SEM came to Atlanta, the US, to start a week-long study of the 2019 Global Strategic Marketing Overseas Module of “21st Century Marketing”. The course was strongly supported by the Coca-Cola Company, an enterprise member of Tsinghua SEM’s advisory committee. Speaking of Atlanta, the impression left on people’s mind is more about the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Actually, Atlanta is known as the “New Southern Capital” of the United States, with diversified economy and headquarters of hundreds of major companies including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Airlines. Atlanta has well-developed media industry and is one of the largest TV and radio markets in the US. The headquarters of CNN is also located here.


The Opening Chapter of the Module——a Close-up Experience of Coco-Cola Culture

With the classic logo of white characters on red background and a refreshing taste of soda, Coca-Cola has left its imprint in the memories of too many people and it has also grown along with our generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. In Atlanta, the topic of “Coca-Cola” cannot be missed. On the first day of the course, under the thoughtful arrangement of the MBA Programs of Tsinghua SEM and the Coca-Cola Company, we followed several “seniors” of cola to have a close contact with Coca-Cola.

“A bottle so distinct that it could be recognized by touch in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”At the headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company, the sentence printed on the oncoming wall reminds visitors that “You have come to Coca-Cola, and the company has been in permanent pursuit of innovation and uniqueness.” The sentence was originated in 1915 when Coca-Cola invited glass bottle manufacturers across the US to design a distinct beverage bottle with very unique requirements: “A bottle so distinct that it could be recognized by touch in the dark or lying broken on the ground.” The curved bottle and Coca-Cola have become the best interpretation of American culture: “Everyone can have it, and it will always represent joy and passion.”


At Coca-Cola Company


In the morning, an in-depth communication with three managers of Coca-Cola Company allowed us to have a closer contact with Coca-Cola and deepened understanding and knowledge of the company. “You must dare to take risks and engrave your name deeply in the minds of potential customers. Once they know you, they cannot easily forget you.” The company that is good at creating happy moments has won the love of the world.



The in-depth communication between Coca-Cola’s senior executives and MBA students of Tsinghua SEM


At lunchtime, we were very fortunate to meet six Tsinghua alumni who had settled in Atlanta. Among them are the founders of local law firms, data scientists who have worked in American companies for more than 20 years, and professors from Georgia Institute of Technology...Their warm remarks made us more aware of the preciousness of the word “Tsinghua”and feel more affectionate towards it. No matter where we are, we as Tsinghua people have always been on the way of striving for better, and our pursuit for excellence and happiness has never stopped.




Tsinghua alumni sharing ideas

In the afternoon, all participants of the module came to the world of Coca-Cola, a place where stories of happiness and dreams accumulate.Whether for creative and brilliant advertisements or diversified products that integrate various local tastes, “Make Coca-Cola their own” is a crucial secret for success. How to fully establish emotional connection with consumers and even the wider general public, how to achieve brand resonance, and how to open up and connect online and offline channels beyond the pure consumer relationship is the future direction of the new retail business format. In earlier time, Coca-Cola has made the brand connotation enriched, deepened, and dimensional in the form of the Coca-Cola World, allowing consumers to have brand awareness and a sense of brand belonging and brand ownership and thus be attracted and infected by the brand.

We had a special journey at the World of Coca-Cola. In front of precious photos and videos, fascinating short films and advertisements, and thousands of diversified products with different flavors, we not only had a deeper understanding of Coca-Cola’s products, brands and connotations, but also “immersed” and “connected” ourselves with the abundant memories and affections related to it. Love, happiness, sympathy, passion, care, friendship, the future... all these values based on the essence of human nature have become the emotional connection between Coca-Cola and consumers, and thus the marketing logic of Coca-Cola is achieved.


A splendid tour of the “World of Coca-Cola”


The Highlight of the Module——Integration of Classroom Lectures and Corporate Visits

The biggest highlight of the overseas module is the integration of classroom lectures and corporate visits. After a full day of close contact with Coca-Cola Company, we ushered in the following day with a lecture by Professor Tim from Georgia Institute of Technology. He shared with us five reasons for the success of the Coca-Cola brand: “Developed the passionate relationships with the right consumers, connect brand emotionally with consumers,create memorable consumption experiences,stay on top of trends and evolve,learn from mistakes”. Among them, Professor Tim mentioned several key words many times. The first is Right Consumers. There are different target consumer groups for different products. A comprehensive consideration of the matching of categorized consumer profiles and product/brand characteristics should be taken in all brand marketing. The second is the Relationship. After the right consumer is found, it is necessary to establish relationship between the consumer and the brand. Here, Professor Tim mentioned some methods and keys similar to those in the establishment of interpersonal relationship. For Coca-Cola, cultivating loyal consumers requires a lot of emotional factors beyond the product function itself. Coca-Cola has been very successful in this regard. Through systematic marketing activities, the brand image that “Coca-Cola equals to Happiness” has been constantly established.


Professor Tim from Georgia Institute of Technology lectured for Tsinghua MBA students


In the afternoon, we came to Coca-Cola’s important advertising Agency—FITZCO.The field study at FITZCO allowed us to have firsthand experience of the culture and office atmosphere of local companies in the US. FITZCO mentioned 5C in sharing: Culture, Company, Category, Consumer and Connections. Among these ideas, we are familiar with some, while Category and Connections are relatively of characteristics. It’s necessary to look for innovations constantly in consumers’ dynamic expectations and to help consumers find the entry points that can bring changes to their lives. The following cases were explained in terms of four aspects: business problems, challenges, innovation strategies and final results, allowing us to learn more about Agency’s strategy in helping clients solve problems.


Group photo at FITZCO

On the morning of the third day, Professor Tim continued to give us lectures on brand marketing. In brand marketing, people often focus on the final form and result, but Tim reveals to us the more important part under the iceberg. The path for implementation must include sufficient research and effective organization plan, and then external actions can be made for the final implementation. In addition, Professor Tim advocates the classic marketing theory that all market behaviors should not purely serve the benefit of the company, but also of consumers and other stakeholders, as only with a long-term and stable benefit return mechanism can the corporate benefits and social responsibility be maximized.

The following lectures were given by Professor Aaron from Georgia Institute of Technology. Professor Aaron has rich work experience in brand management, and his lectures are closer to the real market, which has deep resonance for us in the learning process: “Less is more——the explosion of information, the diversity of choices, and the drive of desire always make us want more. We habitually put pressure on ourselves in every aspect of life, study, and work, trying to occupy more to fill the void inside, only to find ourselves often feel exhausted, irritable, anxious, and even want to escape. A good product or a state of life must be return to a state of extreme simplicity. This process of subtraction from complexity to simplicity is a process of returning to the essence and the original intention. Only through this process can the inner peace be found and the true self be revealed.”

“Marketing is a set of activities that created values.” “Marketing is not always Yes or No, White or Black. It’s a shade of grey.”“Opportunity from chaos, and Highlighting the key points from a lot of information makes users aware of the brand and willing for trial and repeat purchases.”

“Professor Aaron emphasized on the application of the 80/20 Rule in brand management. He told us to always pay attention to our core target user group, and the main goal of marketing planning was to attract consumers’ attention so that they would purchase and repeat purchase.”

Afterwards, the students opened their minds and their classroom presentations were full of creativity. Each presentation was carefully commented by Professor Aaron.

 Highly interactive classroom teaching


MBA students of Tsinghua SEM and Professor Aaron


Desserts of the Module——Visit CNN Headquarters

On the afternoon of the fourth day, reluctant to finish the classroom teaching with longing for more, we began our second group activity of this trip and went to visit the headquarters of CNN. As is known to all, CNN is a rising star that broke through the narrow space among the three major U.S. TV networks that dominated the market in the 1980s. Through extensive and in-depth news report, differentiated competition, and as the first to provide 24-hour uninterrupted programs, CNN has become a force that cannot be underestimated in current global news market. As the world's only source of information during the 1990 Gulf War, CNN established its position in the industry at one stroke.

The visit to CNN allows us to learn that behind a piece of news is the love and dedication of countless people who go out and present reality. In extreme weather or even at the forefront of war, what makes these people dare to dash forward without fear of danger must be a true love from the bottom of the heart for what they do. It is precisely because of this love that they shine with brilliance in front of the camera and behind the screen. These people have found the cause that they really love rather than merely a career.



MBA students of Tsinghua SEM at the headquarters of CNN


 Closing Day of the Module——Brainstorm of Group Presentation

The fifth day is the day for presentation. In fact, on every night of this module, we saw various groups discussing in the hotel lobby or school classroom, constantly making adjustments of their group reports based on what they had learned on that day.  During the process, professor Liu Qian was always with us, offering answers and guidance to us on the spot.


Students were proactively preparing their last group presentation


On the last day of the group presentation, each group displayed their unique strengths and achieved a wonderful presentation on the marketing topics proposed by Coca-Cola based on what they had learned and felt in the past few days. Professor Tim, Professor Liu Qian, and representatives of the Coca-Cola Company asked questions and proposed suggestions after the sharing of each group.



Group presentation on the spot

The final week of intensive learning approached the closing stage———group presentation. During this week, everyone seemed to have a feeling of “passing a day as if it were a year”. It is not because they didn’t like it, but because there was too much information every day, including real cases about the Coca-Cola market, creative sharing from Coca-Cola’s partners, true feelings arising from actual investigation, the marketing courses of Georgia Institute of Technology and the brainstorming among students. Everyone gains not only from learning, but also from various aspects through integrating theory with practice and in-depth cultural exchanges.

The innovation, creativity and culture of the Coca-Cola Company are the magic weapon for Coca-Cola's everlasting and continuous development and self-breakthrough for more than 100 years. As we see, today Coca-Cola Company is constantly advancing on the road of transforming into a full-category beverage company. Companies of this era can learn a lot from the Coca-Cola Company. Through the Coca-Cola project of Tsinghua SEM, the purpose of increasing learning and communication has been achieved.



Group photo of faculty of the module



At the completion of the course


We wish the next Coca-Cola project great success!

We appreciate all teachers for their dedication! Farewell!


Contributed by: KUANG Hong, ZHANG Peng (Tsinghua MBA students)

Photo taken by: KUANG Hong, ZHANG Peng, LAI Wei (Tsinghua MBA students)

Edited by: ZHU Yidan





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