Balance between frenemies

McDonald’s has a new commercial called “Love Is Endless,” showing the Joker making a balloon animal for Batman, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch taking a selfie, and even a red elephant and blue donkey embracing in a warm hug. It’s a great commercial with the goal of reversing eroding sales, but it piqued my interest for a different reason: It’s a great example of collaboration between two typically opposed parties, who can come together to confront something that threatens them both.

Similarly, there’s a new effort related to the century-old Coke vs. Pepsi war called “Mixify.” A partnership between the Hatfields and McCoys of the soda world (along with the American Beverage Association), “Mixify” includes ads, a web portal and other media to help people find balance – balance between calorie intake and calorie burning. It provides advice from nutritionists and dieticians, as well as coaches and athletes. All of this results from an announcement late last year that the big three (Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper) had agreed to work together to reduce caloric intake from beverages by 20% over the next 10 years.

The past few years have witnessed a growing trend toward healthier foods. As proof, you can reference the projected growth of organics and look to the growing interest in GMO labeling, the number of new health apps for mobile devices or even Shelton Group’s Eco Pulse study. It’s the same trend that’s affecting McDonald’s, and it obviously hasn’t slipped by unnoticed at Coke and Pepsi.

I’m certain there are a number of health groups who think “Mixify” isn’t much of an effort at all. And I’m guessing the executives at both soda companies are worried they may have given up too much in future sales and profits. But it strikes me as a good example of balance. Health advocates see movement toward acknowledging the problem and taking some corrective actions, and beverage firms gain recognition that their brands care about customers. Your prototypical win-win.

It’s a lesson that can be taught in other industries as well, such as the energy industry. Health is an issue that also affects the electric utility industry, as generation eases away from coal-fired plants to renewable alternatives. Utilities and renewable energy organizations have an opportunity to work together toward a balanced solution that benefits both parties. Renewable advocates will see more generation and support. Utilities, as we noted in our recent Energy Pulse study, will enjoy a positive brand association since customers think more highly of utilities that support renewables.

Balance is the key thought when it comes to such collaborations. All parties must realize they won’t get everything they want, and each generally gives up something to gain something else that’s more meaningful or valuable. As the two groups move toward each other, they eventually find the fulcrum point where balance can be achieved.



Posted on

March 4, 2015

About the Author

Jim Lyza

Jim is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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