Coke's annual pricey and multifaceted sponsorship of "Idol" takes off this week with the debut of the new season tomorrow night.
Much of what the company has done in the past--it's been with the show since 2002--returns, such as branding the "Red Room" where contestants prep for the stage. Also back is the much-discussed product placement, where distinctive Coke cups sit in front of the three judges.
This year, the Red Room gets a slight makeover, and other aspects of Coke's on-screen appearances will have new graphics.
But perhaps the most notable addition embraces consumers' increased interest in tinkering with brand logos and displaying them on their personal Web outlets. Last year, Coke launched a "Create a Cup" opportunity, in which an individual could design a cup. The most compelling creation was placed in front of the troika of judges during an episode.
This year, that opportunity returns, but individuals doing designs can place their creations on MySpace or other personal Web destination. In a contest, Coke will then randomly draw a URL it has registered and if the design is still there, the artist will win a prize.
Also notable this season is Coke's interest in building traffic for its own "direct-to-consumer media channel," its MyCokeRewards.com site--where Coke drinkers can earn prizes by drinking more. The cup contest will be hosted there, as well as behind-the-scenes videos of contestants.
Both were staged on AmericanIdol.com a year ago, but Coke says upgraded technology gives it greater capabilities with its own site. Executives have touted the change as a marketing benefit.
For the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, Coke will debut at least one new spot in its "Coke Side of Life" campaign. A year ago, it debuted two on "Idol," where its sponsorship also includes running ads all season and then in the Big Game.