Coke Super Bowl Campaign Blends TV, Tablets And Smart Phones

Coca-Cola's animated polar bears seen on TV will 'respond' to Facebook and Twitter comments and post fan photos and videos as part of a social-media-integrated campaign.

Doug Henschen, Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

January 30, 2012

5 Min Read

Putting a television ad in front of 100 million-plus Super Bowl 46 viewers? That's $3.5 million for 30 seconds. Getting even a fraction of those viewers to interact on social networks? Priceless!

The Coca-Cola Company has announced its plan for a multi-media advertising campaign during next Sunday's Super Bowl. The stars of the effort will be Coke's iconic animated polar bears, who will appear in a 30-second ad during the first quarter and a 60-second ad during the second quarter.

The spots will serve the conventional advertising purpose of promoting the Coke brand to the more than 100 million viewers expected to tune into the broadcast. But the ads will also include a social-media twist with a call for viewers to visit on their tablets, smartphones or computer.

[ Want more on digital marketing? Read IT And Marketing: How Digital Media's Changing The Relationship. ]

Coke is trying to taking advantage of an emerging "second screen" media consumption phenomenon; at least 60% of Super Bowl viewers are expected to have a smart phone, tablet or computer within arm's reach during the game, according to Coke's research. Tablets and smart phones, in particular, are couch-and-TV-friendly devices that are changing TV viewing habits.

The site will feature the Coke polar bears watching and reacting to the game in real time, thanks to live animation technology. One bear will be rooting for New England while the other will be a New York giants fan. They'll jump for joy when their respective team scores or has a big play, and don't be surprised if they fall asleep if and when a Pepsi ad is shown on TV.

Fans will be able to comment or ask the bears questions via Facebook and Twitter, and viewers will also be encouraged to upload game-related fan photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Coke devised the integrated campaign to channel brand-related comments to its own Facebook page (which has more than 37 million likes) and its @CocaCola Twitter presence.

The responses, crafted by a team of ad copy writers, will highlight and amplify social comments, photos and videos that might create buzz around the brand by featuring them on the live stream.

Just five years ago, broadcast television was more of an advertising domain unto itself, with success roughly measured by the millions of households, as measured by Nielsen. Some companies were measuring correlations between broad brand advertising and activity on Web sites. But only a few pioneers were paying attention to how big an impact ads had on the still-nascent social networks.

Today, consumers react to ads (and, for that matter, unpopular corporate policies) by immediately sharing en masse their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter; those reactions also are carefully measured and dissected by advertising agencies, digital media firms and the brand advertisers that hire them.

What Coca-Cola didn't discuss in unveiling its campaign to the media last week was how it might mine the big data that the social media interactions will generate. Social network profiles, likes and expressed opinions offer a treasure trove of demographic and psychographic data that can be minded by social-media listening (what are people saying?), sentiment analysis (what are they thinking?), and social-network analysis (are talkers influential and what and they doing?) technologies. Coke could use that data to measure the impact of its ad spend and learn more about avid Coke fans.

This level of detailed data doesn't exist in the broadcast world unless it's extrapolated from expensive, time-consuming focus-group work. Integrated campaigns are all about learning more about the impact of broad, shotgun campaigns by probing reactions in the targeted and highly measurable world of social media.

According to a recent survey of 28,500 consumers by IBM, people are more than willing to share personal information with manufacturers and retailers through social networks. If consumers believe they'll get a better, more personalized shopping experience, they will tell all about their media consumption (75%); age, race, gender, and income (73%); name and address (61%); and lifestyle details such as hobbies and other interests (59%).

Coke's digital marketing agency, 360i, specializes in social-media listening, which is about keeping track of sentiments and influencers in the social sphere. The agency, which works with other consumer giants including Kraft Foods and JC Penney, also helps firms go beyond just creating a Facebook or Twitter presence by helping them to interact with these consumers.

As part of the CokePolarBowl campaign, for example, fans will be able to send a Coke coupon to fellow friends and followers after the game from a new "AHHH Giver" and "ARGH Reliever" app on Facebook (AHHH coupons being for fans of the winning team and ARGH Reliever coupons being for fans of the losing team). That will obviously generate additional networking activity that yields data about the senders and receivers of those coupons.

The Monday morning quarterbacking after this year's Super Bowl will undoubtedly include critiques of the most loved and hated ad campaigns. But the real gauge of success for ad campaigns is rapidly becoming the degree to which they trigger social interactions for the brand. The more people interact with Coca-Cola's polar bears, the better able the company will be to measure its advertising investment and learn more about what makes Coke lovers tick.

About the Author(s)

Doug Henschen

Executive Editor, Enterprise Apps

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of Transform Magazine, and Executive Editor at DM News. He has covered IT and data-driven marketing for more than 15 years.

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