Coke plots "aggressive" digital push

ATLANTA: Coca-Cola, the US soft drinks giant, will adopt a "far more aggressive digital presence" as it seeks to respond to "dramatic changes" in consumer behaviour, according to Joseph Tripodi, the company's chief marketing and commercial officer.

"One of the things we're talking about now is how we evolve as a marketing entity around the world. We're pushing for a far more aggressive digital presence," Tripodi said.

This will include moving beyond traditional marketing techniques, and developing material that will positively engage its target audience.

"What we're going for more and more will be developing compelling content. Some will be consumer-generated, some of it we'll buy, some of it we'll create ourselves. The idea is to flex that content out over different digital endpoints," he said.

One of the Atlanta-based firm's primary innovations in this area to date has been establishing platforms that allow its customers to exchange the "points" they accrue when buying its brands for a range of products.

This initiative is known as My Coke Rewards in the US and CokeZone in the UK, and offers a variety of valuable information to the beverage maker about its customers.

"With My Coke Rewards we have 13 million names. With that kind of database you can build relationships with consumers that are very different from the ones you gain through TV ads," Tripdoi said.

Moreover, once web users become involved in this sort of programme, it means "you start evolve your thinking about how to engage them, beyond giving away T-shirts," he continued.

The American corporation recently announced a new competition, called the Sounds of Coca-Cola, asking people to submit videos in which they replicate the noises they associate with opening, pouring and drinking Coke.

To enter, participants need to visit Facebook, the social network, to find out the details, and then use an "app" to upload their entry, with the best efforts possibly going on to feature in an ad campaign.

Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer of Coca-Cola North America, said "we know there's nothing quite like drinking a Coca-Cola, so if people share their interpretations of how that sounds, have fun and make us thirsty, we may put them in a Coca-Cola commercial."

Similarly, at a Mobile Marketing Forum event this month, Hinde Pagani, Coca-Cola's senior mobile marketing manager, global interactive marketing, indicated this channel would be of increased importance going forward.

"Consumers are changing. Audiences are changing dramatically, especially the younger ones. They live with technology, using it to consume more media, generate more conversations and befriend more brands than ever," she said.

"Mobile is at the centre of this media revolution. For us it is critical to understand this new device, to interact with teens and youth where they spend their time and deliver engaging and compelling brand experiences. So we add mobile to the marketing mix in pretty much all of our markets."

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola launched an iPhone application, the Magic Coke Bottle, which answers "questions about life, love and the universe."

Data sourced from Marketing Magazine/Design Taxi/utalkmarketing; additional content by WARC staff, 25 September 2009

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