In 2015, Coca-Cola gave away free socks.
Here in Japan, Coke is king. Yes, you can get Pepsi — including Pepsi Strong, which has extra caffeine and quintuple carbonation — but for the most part, Coke is the dominant cola here. However, part of staying on top is customer loyalty. Thus, during the holiday season of 2015, if you bought two large (1.5L) or four small (500mL) bottles of Coke products, you could pick from two designs: a red-and-white Christmas motif, or a blue/green/white stripe design. At the time, my grocery store was Summit, and as far as I could tell, either none of their shoppers was buying Coke, or nobody cared about free things. Thus, I ended up with several pairs of those socks. They were warm, they were fuzzy, and they were surprisingly comfortable — I tried wearing them outside once, and they were just as nice in shoes as they were just shuffling around at home.
After the socks had run their course (no pun intended), Coke instead offered One Piece-branded desk calendars. I didn’t see anything after that, nor for most of 2016.
Around the holidays, the socks returned — only this time, there were three sizes, each with different designs. By this time, Summit was long gone, and the Maruetsu near me had apparently decided not to participate in the promotion, so the only outlet I could think of was the Keikyu Store beside Heiwajima Station. Unfortunately, they ran out of socks alarmingly quickly (different customer base, I guess). Following those were the One Piece calendars again, but they also vanished with uncanny speed.
Imagine my surprise when I found a new tchotchke offered shortly after: A heart-shaped dish — slightly curved, so if you put four together, they formed a clover. I suspected this was supposed to be their February item, and their hand was forced by the speed at which the other freebies had been snapped up. Unsurprisingly, the dishes were also short-lived.
Shortly after, the free-with-purchase offering was… a small fleece blanket. A Japanese one. The red ones had daruma, the blue Mt. Fuji, and the yellow some sort of flower. Something useful like that was guaranteed to move, but I managed to find a store with plenty of blankets and seemingly-uninterested customers. The next item was a metal Qoo-branded serving tray (Qoo being a non-carbonated Japanese drink made by Coca-Cola).
Meanwhile, their latest gift is a huge tote bag. Frankly, I’m surprised they’re still churning out free stuff. Must be driving sales better than I expected.
Wonder what’s next.