Bank boss spends $1,500 to fizz up meeting

Bank boss spends $1,500 to fizz up meeting
PERSONALISED: Ms Cheong got personalised cans of Coca-Cola instead of name cards to indicate where each employee was to be seated at the meeting.

Business meetings can be boring.

You step into a large meeting room, look for the card holder bearing your name and plonk yourself down.

But DBS Bank's Consumer Banking Group (Singapore) chief operating officer Susan Cheong decided to fizz it up a little during her department's internal meeting on May 11.

She got personalised cans of Coca-Cola instead of name cards to indicate where each employee was to be seated at the meeting.

Ms Cheong spent more than $1,500 on 1,200 trademark Coca-Cola drinks to get the 150 customised cans in return.

The drink's Share A Coke campaign offers the public an opportunity to have their names printed on a Coca-Cola can for every $10 they spend on Coke, Coke Light and Coke Zero.

It's clever marketing, said Miss Hannah Chang, who teaches marketing at Singapore Management University.

"It's quite smart to build excitement like this and at the same time engage with consumers."

Now the cans even have a local touch, carrying words like "Ah Boy", "Chiongster" and "Bro" .

"We wanted to do something special that celebrates Singapore's unique identity and heritage, while strengthening the bonds that weave us together as a nation," said Ms Gill McLaren, Coca-Cola's general manager of the brand's offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei.

Miss Chang said: "Such a unconventional yet exclusive strategy is bound to spark word-of-mouth.

"People are posting pictures of their own personalised cans on social media like Facebook and Instagram.

"This type of campaign can be successful because of its ability to create buzz. Not only is it attention-grabbing but it also makes people want to be a part of the social trend."


But clever marketing ideas can also backfire.

In 2010, a marketing approach to reach out to the youth involved a masked man "defacing" post boxes.

The campaign, meant to promote a post-box art competition, ended with Singaporeans saying it promoted vandalism.

Brand campaign manager Shawn Liew, 38, said: "Being able to push the boundaries can turn a campaign viral, but to push it too much can also turn it into a disaster.

"In this case, they completely misread what the younger generation would find 'cool' and the concept of vandalism should have been crossed off from the very start."


Why personalised cans of soft drink?

Mr Roy Chew, spokesman for DBS Bank, said Ms Susan Cheong wanted to express the company's "gratitude for the employees' hard work".

In the past, she gave tokens like name card holders and power banks.

While some at the meeting instinctively gulped the drink, observant employees realised their names were on the cans.

"When they finally realised their names were on the can, those who had opened theirs regretted their actions," said Mr Chew.

Then out came the cameras and soon the pictures were all over social media.

This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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