Online All Stars: The Elephant Handler

Tom Daly/Illustration: Molly Crabapple

Tom Daly Group Manager , Global Interactive Marketing , The Coca~Cola Company

An iconic American brand with a multibillion-dollar business built on a secret formula isn't easily given to risk-taking. (Remember New Coke?) But at the Coca-Cola Company, Tom Daly has helped nudge the beverage giant into the digital and mobile future. From seizing on the YouTube sensation of the "Diet Coke-Mentos Experiments" to letting a pair of fans build its Facebook page, the company has loosened up during Daly's tenure.

"When I go to conferences and hear what other people are doing, I feel encouraged Coca-Cola is leaning forward," says the affable Daly, an online marketing pioneer who launched the interactive communications group at ups a decade before joining Coca-Cola in 2005.

Leaning forward also means going mobile. Daly explains the ubiquity of mobile phones dovetails with the company's decades-old credo of "putting Coke within an arm's-reach of everyone." But not by blanketing the mobile Web with banner ads. Taking a more innovative approach has led to efforts like Sprite Yard, a branded mobile social network aimed at teens and launched in China in 2007. It's also taken the form of branded phones in Brazil, and a promotion in India providing prepaid phone users a pin code to send free text messages.

"With 4 billion mobile phones worldwide we want to make the phone an enabler," says Daly, "As technology becomes more and more part of marketing, you have to keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities," he says. "Learning can never get routine."

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