Social media and how Coke has leveraged that power, that was the theme of the discussion for the session moderated by Sapient’s Freddie Laker, which included Carol Kruse, VP, Interative Marketing, Coca Cola; Anthony J Philips, global marketing manager, Consumer Marketing Innovation, Coca Cola and Miguel Moreno Toscano, manager of interactive marketing, Coca Cola.
Kruse was of the view that mobile is the biggest opportunity available for brands at the moment. “Mobile payment, widely used in a market like Japan, is the next big thing and of huge relevance to marketers like us,” she said. Kruse touched upon Coca Cola’s ‘Mobile Festive’ campaign which was adapted for 13 markets across four continents. There were challenges adapting a global interactive marketing campaign uniformally across different markets. In a market like India, for instance, where as Kruse pointed out, the mesaaging was largely text based, the opportunity for a mobile based brand experience was limited.
“Mobile comes with its own sets of challenges. We discovered how differently developing and developed markets needed to be addressed for the same campaign. It was not a matter of just taking one core idea and adapting it for different markets. In India, for instance, the campaign linked to users getting free talktime and that was a great success. We plan to put that campaign out in other markets, as well.”
“Brand managers have to understand that social media is about consumers interacting with the brands and not the other way around,” explained Kruse. She admitted that even within Coca Cola, she has to keep reminding her brand managers that brands need to take a back seat in the social media space and let consumers tell their story. Interestingly, according to Kruse, Coca Cola does not monitor the content on the Facebook fan page, apart from keeping out explicit and abusive comments. She says the policing role has been taken over by the fan community on the site, which responds to negative comments.
Michael and Dusty, two Coca Cola fans made a film about their love for the Cola brand and their Coca Cola page on Facebook became the second most popular brand page on Facebook, next only to Barack Obama’s Facebook page. Taking the Michael and Dusty example, Laker contrasted that with the approach that many other brands take with regard to Facebook. It may be recalled that Scrabble, for instance, took umbrage at the Scrabulous application that two Indians created for Facebook which eventually became one of the most popular Facebook applications and threatened legal action, leading to the application being terminated. Although, since then, Scrabble has created an application of its own and the original creators have created a new Scrabble like application, neither has reached the level of popularity that the original one evoked.
With 3 million Coca Cola vending machines around the globe, the company realised that these were, in themselves, a great place to start conversations with consumers and were, in fact, the most visible marketing assets that the company possessed. Toscano admitted that their original vending machines did a very functional role of dispensing Coke cans and did not enhance the user experience in any way.
“We got our marketing, technology and design team together and created this vending machine, alongwith Samsung. It’s a touch screen enabled vending machine and goes a long way in creating a tangible user experience that can deliver the brand story,” he added.
Philips was of the view that Windows Live Messenger as a tool provided incredible reach but has been under-utilised by brands. Giving the example of a campaign where they partnered with sticker manufacturing company Panini for tradable football cards online, Philips demonstrated how they added a chat component to the site, to increase the campaign’s reach and how it helped in incraesing the reach of that particular campaign.
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