Coca-Cola Puts Super Bowl Marketing In Social Media Hands Of Consumers

By Barry Janoff

January 22, 2013: Boasting that “We’re raising the bar from last year’s Big Game campaign" and also that "We’re being bolder than ever before," Cola-Cola has unveiled the marketing strategy it intends to use before, during and after Super Bowl XLVII.

The beverage giant has created an advertising platform that is part Survivor, part The Amazing Race and almost all social-media driven consumer activation.

According to Coke, "Through an unprecedented second screen experience, fan engagement within digital, social and mobile will drive the outcome of Coca-Cola’s Big Game broadcast television commercials in real time."

The initial phase was revealed today (Jan. 22) via a teaser spot on YouTube. as well as a dedicated Web site, CokeChase.com. The storyline, according to the brand, follows "three factions of characters – a band of Cowboys, a gang of 'Badlanders' (who appear to have come out of Mad Max) and a pack of Vegas-style show girls (who travel via private bus) – as they chase after an elusive bottle of Coca-Cola."

The teaser spot ends with the three groups arriving what appeared to be a giant bottle of Coke, but turns out to be a billboard with directions to the next destination. (See the teaser here.)

The Web site offers details on each of the three competing groups, such as their leaders, origins, mottos and skills. Each also has a unique Twitter hashtag.

A 30-second trailer for the campaign will launch on Jan. 23 on TV and as part of a YouTube takeover and "a call to action for fans to kick-off the Coke Chase." Efforts will direct people to log on to CokeChase.com to vote for their favorite team and to also sabotage their fictional foes.

During the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII on CBS, Coca-Cola said it would break a the campaign’s anchor 60-second commercial, “Mirage,” during the first half of the game. The spot will also run online prior to the game.

Via social media destinations such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Instagram, Coca-Cola said that people would determine "in real time" how the story is resolved by voting for and against the three groups aiming to capture the bottle of Coke.

Three 30-second versions of the resolution have been filmed, as have various "sabotage" segment. The winning spot will air "following the final whistle of the Big Game . . . to complete the narrative."

Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which worked with Coca-Cola "to create and produce 'Mirage,' its three 30-second alternate endings, all 15 sabotage scenes and the activation at CokeChase.com.

Thirty-second spots during Super Bowl XLVII have averaged $3.8 million, with some slots going for $4 million, according to CBS.

This is the seventh consecutive year Coke commercials will appear during the Super Bowl broadcast. Coca-Cola has spent $80.8 million on Super Bowl ads over the past six years, according to marketing and research firm Kantar Media, NY.

Rival PepsiCo has spent $182.7 million on Super Bowl ads over the past ten years. In addition, Pepsi is an official marketing partner of the NFL and, as such, is allowed to use league symbols and such terms as "Super Bowl" in its marketing.

Without the official NFL partnership, Coca-Cola and other non-NFL partners must refer to the event as the "Big Game."

“The Big Game is the ultimate platform for showcasing brands’ preeminent advertising, but this year we’re also using America’s biggest stage to kick-off Coca-Cola’s marketing efforts for the entire year that will focus on Coke as the ultimate refresher,” Pio Schunker, svp-integrated marketing communications for Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. “We’re raising the bar from last year’s Big Game campaign [which starred the Polar Bears]. We’re being bolder than ever before, and we’re experimenting with even more second-screen innovation.”

In addition to teaser ads, Coke said it would use its MyCokeRewards platform and partner with Domino’s Pizza for pre-game activation. After the Super Bowl, Coke will direct people to Facebook and Twitter, where additional "Mirage" content will be revealed. In addition, MyCokeRewards.com will offer a limited number of registered visitors the opportunity to receive a coupon for a free bottle of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

“This year’s Coca-Cola Big Game campaign represents the way our Company is evolving as a marketer,” Stuart Kronauge, GM-sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement. “We’re celebrating the liquid and reminding people that Coca-Cola is the ultimate refresher and engaging them in an unprecedented social experience. This fully integrated fan experience transcends simple TV advertising, hands over the power to our fans and creates new connections with retail on America’s biggest advertising stage.”

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