Coca-Cola Sees Expansion In Mobile Future

Coca-Cola launched its largest digital effort ever this year with its “Move to the Beat” campaign for the Summer Olympics across 100 countries. Mobile played a key part in the award-winning effort, with SMS activations, integrated apps and promotional QR codes. MediaPost talked to Kim Siler, mobile brand strategist, global connections at Coca-Cola, about the Olympics campaign and the company’s broader mobile strategy.
 
MP: Can you give a brief description of your job?
 
Siler: I sit in the global connections group, within corporate, of the Coca-Cola Company. We set the strategy and the direction of mobile. So it’s about making sure we’re looking at how things can scale and getting the best partnerships from that perspective with vendors and agencies.
 
I’m currently working a little bit more closely with our brands, helping them with their mobile strategies, and we have a few mobile platforms that we focus on -- SMS, mobile Web and apps -- and right now, I’m going to be focusing on our location platform. That doesn’t mean we’re going to have a platform that manages location, but building out what the strategy is for location -- what vendors and partners make the most sense for Coca-Cola and our consumers.
 
MP: The "Move to the Beat" campaign tied to the Summer Olympics was a major focus of the company’s marketing efforts in 2012. Did the mobile results meet expectations?
 
Siler: The “Move to the Beat” campaign was sort of a benchmark for Coca-Cola. It was the first time mobile was an integral part of an integrated marketing campaign. It far exceeded expectations in that we were able to successfully show mobile could part of the overarching story. We rolled out the campaign to over 100 markets, with mobile portions in all of them. We launched the SMS portion of the campaign in nine markets. That may sound small, but these were really key markets -- we’re talking about China, Russia, South Africa, U.S., Canada, Mexico. That was our biggest success.
 
MP: What about response rates across markets?
 
Siler: I will say there were some markets that did it very well. One in particular was Canada, which took the SMS program and ran with it. The engagement rates averaged about 45%. We set the global, overarching story line of “Move to the Beat,” and say [to local Coca-Cola teams] here’s the focus, here’s the recommendations, now take it and localize it. They insert local calls to action or a local story line to it.
 
MP: Is SMS, because of its universality, still the core of Coca-Cola’s approach to mobile marketing?
 
Siler: It is one that our team pushes throughout Coca-Cola. It’s a ubiquitous format you can use to reach 98% of consumers and…it’s much more personal and much more integrated into what a consumer is already doing in their daily lives. So it is a very big part of the mobile marketing mix. We look at a wide range of platforms and outlets in mobile, so it’s not just SMS.
 
MP: A lot of brands are in the process of optimizing their sites for mobile devices. Where is Coca-Cola on that front?
 
Siler: We’re getting there. I wouldn’t say they’re all mobile-optimized yet. It takes time when you have over 208 countries, the number of brands we have, the number of languages.
 
MP: What does Coca-Cola’s location platform entail?
 
Siler: Right now, we’re just looking at what really is Coca-Cola’s role in location. Ultimately, we believe that when coupled with mobile payments, the location capabilities of a mobile device/network can enable our vision of a world where people can walk in holding their phone and walk out with their phone and a Coca-Cola.
 
MP: Without Olympics or World Cup in 2013 is it going to be a quieter year for Coca-Cola in terms of mobile projects?
 
Siler: I wish it was quieter, but for the 2012 Olympics I was working on that mobile strategy in 2011. So it will be a busy year, especially considering we have the Sochi [Winter Olympics] in 2014 and the World Cup in Rio (in 2014).

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3 comments about "Coca-Cola Sees Expansion In Mobile Future".
  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing , December 27, 2012 at 11:47 a.m.
    So there is ZERO data or proof any of this worked. Why write up an article like this. I actually blogged recently that I can't see the benefit of mobile for Coca Cola. The branding stuff is a load of hooey. We have all tried Coke and most of the related brands. We either like it or not. Most decisions are made point of sale based on price or in some cases lack of choice like restaurants have. Kim you can do better than this.
  2. Kevin Horne from Lairig Marketing , December 30, 2012 at 3:49 a.m.
    wait Howie ! didnt you read this quote? "The engagement rates averaged about 45%..." [on some sort of Canadian SMS campaign of some sort...] never mind the detail. never mind what the Coke definition of "engagement rate" is.... isn't that proof enough? haha
  3. Tony Giuliani from 21st Century Marketing & Training Solutions , January 2, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
    Well, I'd say a 45% engagement rate is a stat, but I wish they went deeper. It does demonstrate to the power of SMS. We've seen engagement rates as high as 90%, and redemption rates averaging 13%, seen them higher, but overall average is 13%. Have many more stats. Our SMS platform can segment data and interact (IVR) like so we can drill deeper and deliver more relevant content/offers.