Things are not good in the United States for the cola industry. It’s downright awful. The problem is that cola is dying—or evaporating, if you will. Drinking a Coke or a Pepsi doesn’t carry the cachet that it did ten years ago.

But after years of unremarkable and ineffective marketing, it’s finally time to give some kudos to someone in the cola world.

Here’s the problem: the market share of soft drinks in the beverage market has been declining for years. Flavored waters, teas, tons of Gatorade lookalikes, and a horde of energy drinks have been circling the cola carnage like buzzards waiting for an animal to die.

per capita soft drink consumption

And many of Coke’s recent ads have been very forgettable. They seem mired in the past and the tradition of Coke, and it’s questionable whether this will attract millennials. Youthful, aspirational buyers are eager to try new things and make their mark by redefining the world. Products need to be presented to them with that in mind.

Coke and Pepsi are two of the most valuable brands in the world and they have tons of cash. As a defensive strategy, they acquired many of these new beverages or started to make their own sub-brands. Coke acquired Fuse and Glaceau and launched Powerade, Dasani, and Enviga. Pepsi bought Tropicana, IZZE, got Naked (Naked Juice, that is), SoBe, and Gatorade as part of the Quaker Oats acquisition, and rolled out Aquafina nationwide. (They also launched more than thirty different flavors of Mountain Dew. How’s that for diversification?)

But what about their flagship drinks, the red and blue cans? Coke hit a solid triple play with the clever use of packaging that they’re featuring this summer. They’re printing random names of people on the side of cans and inviting someone to share a Coke with them.

One of our team, Jaclyn, is an avid Diet Coke drinker. One of her recent cans encouraged her to “share a Diet Coke with Mom”. The can’s message reminded her of splitting Diet Cokes with her mom when she was younger, so she took a photo of the can and emailed it to her mom with a note. We’re predicting that lots of photos will be shared this summer and plenty of cans, too.

It’s tricky to inspire people to spread your message. You’ve got to gain their trust first, and that’s not an easy task. But Coke’s winning strategy is that they let drinkers put their own spin on the message as they pass it along. No hashtags, no solid method for tracking results. Just sharing in the classic sense.

What a clever, exceptional idea for a brand to create a deeper connection and evoke positive feelings.