Coca-Cola in Jerusalem

After arriving in Israel the other day, one of the first things I saw in a newspaper was a full page ad by the Coca-Cola company thanking the Israeli public for naming Coke as the #1 most recognized brand in the country. My reaction: Who cares?

If you've even been within 5 feet of my book, Brand Harmony, you know I think that awareness is the most over-rated branding characteristic. I'm much more interested in the depth of meaning people have for products—and for other things—than I am interested in whether people can recall a product name. Awareness is a much more remote indicator of action than passion is.

Of course people know Coke's name—duh! But in a place that is full of passions, opinions, rich cultures, debates and, yes, zealotry, it seems silly to waste time even acknowledging that lots of people are aware of Coke. Wouldn't it be more interesting to know what products are compelling, not just ubiquitous?