Coke Integrates Live-Stream, Social For Bowl

by , Jan 26, 2012, 5:01 PM
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Coca- Cola’s flagship brand will air two animated spots featuring its iconic polar bear mascots for the first time during the Super Bowl -- plus another post-game spot on ESPN.

But that’s the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

The big news is that the bears will be reacting to the game’s events (and the commercials) in real time via a live-stream running throughout the game, and simultaneously interacting with game- watchers on Facebook and Twitter.

Coke marketing executives laid out the multifaceted integrated marketing strategy for the game in a press preview today.

The core driver of the campaign’s strategy -- from Coke’s lead agency Wieden + Kennedy Portland, with support from digital agency 360i and other partners – is to capitalize on the “second-screen” phenomenon in order to “be everywhere that consumers are” and dominate the social media conversation.

About 60% of the 100 million+ people watching the Super Bowl are expected to be online interacting with others, using their computers or mobile phones or devices.

The creative concept: Two animated polar bears are watching the game together from the arctic. One is rooting for the New York Giants and the other for the New England Patriots, with each wearing a scarf bearing the colors of its chosen team.

The bears’ live-stream reactions will be running throughout the game on CokePolarBowl.com, a microsite hosted on the campaign’s Facebook page. The live-stream will also be viewable on Twitter, ESPN.com and other favorite sports-enthusiast sites (paid placements integrated in windows on the sites, to let fans experience Coke’s stream without interfering with their viewing of the sites’ main content).

Throughout the Coke live-stream, users will be able to share continuously generated video clips from the bears’ activities through Facebook or Twitter, to convey their emotions in multimedia format to their fellow team supporters or friendly foes.

Wieden + Kennedy will be creating many of the bears’ live- stream responses (there are no audio bear “voices,” just animated physical responses) in real-time, in reaction to the game action and commercials. But many bear responses have been prepared in advance -- for example, one or another of the bears performing a victory dance or holding his head in his hands in response to his team’s triumphs or setbacks during the game, or covering the eyes of a cub if a racy commercial or Janet Jackson-like half-time moment occurs.

At the same time, the campaign’s teams will be posting comments and responding to fans’ posts for the bears on the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter presences. The bears’ social posts will also encourage users to upload photos to be incorporated into Coke’s live-stream.

More on the other components of the campaign:

  • Pre-game, starting Jan. 26 and over the next two weeks, Coke will run ads/promotions in various digital and traditional media, including TV, online, social media, billboards and some of its Freestyle vending machines, to drive consumers to the campaign’s Facebook page. There, they can view sneak- peek polar bear videos and RSVP/register in order to trigger donations to Coke’s “Arctic Home” initiative. (For each RSVP, Coca-Cola will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund to help save polar bears’ arctic environment. Depending on participation, this Super Bowl tie-in will generate up to $50,000 of funds for the cause, in addition to the nearly $1 million already raised by the brand’s other “Arctic Home” efforts.)
  • Coke’s first , 30-second Super Bowl TV spot, dubbed “Superstition” and being aired in the game’s first quarter, will show the lengths that football fans (as represented by the polar bears) will go to in order to support their teams. The focus of this spot is driving game viewers to CokePolarBowl.com to view the live-stream and/or participate in the social media activity.
  • In the game’s second quarter, Coke will air one of two creative variations of a 60-second “Catch” TV spot, in which a bear goes all-out to catch a bottle of Coke amid various obstacles. The version aired will be chosen based on what has transpired in the game up to that point, but both versions’ creative stress the brand’s key resonance points with the game’s mass audience (for families, Coke goes well with meals; for teens, it’s “cool”) and the iconic associations with the brand’s polar bears. The unusual last-minute choice of a creative version for a major TV event will require having Coke/agency execs monitor the activities and call the creative decision.
  • Post-game, Coke will air a 30-second TV spot on ESPN, also choosing one of two prepared creative versions. In this case, the spot aired will be the one showing the bear whose team has lost, screaming “argh,” then being consoled by drinking a Coke. This spot will also drive viewers to visit the campaign’s YouTube area to view clips from the bears’ online antics.

Coke’s marketing executives stressed that the campaign’s technology was designed so that participants would not need to download a special app, or do anything other than what they would normally be doing online during the game. Those who are using mobile devices will seamlessly see a format designed for that application.

The marketers also stressed that the campaign is meant to heighten viewers’ enjoyment of and excitement about the game, not interfere with the main game experience. Coke expects consumers to view/interact with its content for a minute or two at one or more points during the game, and then return to watching the game, said Pio Schunker, Coca-Cola North America’s head of integrated marketing platforms and content.

In response to a press question, Alison Lewis, chief marketing officer for Coca-Cola North America, confirmed that Coca-Cola may well employ a similar live-stream/social media/mobile campaign strategy for other of the many major events/TV shows it will be sponsoring in coming months.

“There’s no question that given all of the big events that Coke is associated with, driving greater fan engagement makes sense,” Lewis said.

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