Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl Ad Plans Include Social Media

Coca-Cola is telling Pepsi-Cola that when it comes to Super Bowl advertising, you can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Coca-Cola executives discussed how they intend to incorporate philanthropy and the social media into their Super Bowl ad plans. The social media component will come courtesy of Facebook, which is teaming up with Coca-Cola for the initiative.

Coca-Cola is scheduled to run two commercials during Super Bowl XLIV on CBS on Feb. 7. The company bought the time from CBS before Pepsi-Cola announced that it would skip the game.

Visitors to the Coca-Cola fan page on Facebook (facebook.com/livepositively) will be able to share virtual gifts with friends, after which three things are to take place:

* The gift recipients get an image of a Coke bottle that is displayed on their Facebook pages and news feed.

* The gift givers will get a 20-second sneak peek at one of the two Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercials.

* Coca-Cola will donate a dollar to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The altruistic element to be added to the Super Bowl ad effort reflects a longtime corporate philosophy “to do a little good while you’re refreshing people,” Katie Bayne, chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola North America.

The philanthropy also fits in with a Coca-Cola corporate campaign carrying the theme “Live positively,” Ms. Bayne said, which discusses subjects like recycling, as well as with the campaign for the Coca-Cola brand, which carries the theme “Open happiness.”

For Coca-Cola, the Super Bowl represents a chance “to be part of the celebration,” she added, and to “make brand-equity deposits” with the large audience expected to watch the game.

The two Coke spots during the game, created by Wieden & Kennedy, are part of the “Open happiness” campaign. One features characters from “The Simpsons” and tells a story about Montgomery Burns, Homer Simpson’s stingy boss, losing his entire fortune.

The other Coke spot in the Super Bowl, set to a version of Ravel’s “Bolero,” shows a man sleepwalking through some scary moments in the African veldt.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola have zigged and zagged their way through many Super Bowls. In the early years, both brands bought spots during the game. Coke pulled out for many years after Pepsi-Cola kept outscoring Coke in the annual USA Today Ad Meter competition, in which consumers rank their favorite Super Bowl spots.

Coke returned to the Super Bowl in 2007 and the two brands went head-to-head again that year as well as in 2008 and 2009.

Ms. Bayne and Pio Schunker, senior vice president for creative excellence — yes, that is his title — at Coca-Cola North America, showed some Coca-Cola spots that will appear during other high-profile TV events in addition to the Super Bowl. The venues will include the Daytona 500 Nascar race and the Winter Olympics.

As the Webcast ended before 2 p.m. Eastern time, Ms. Bayne noted that 2,500 virtual Coke gifts had already been given away through Facebook.

There may have been much more but Coca-Cola’s timing was off: the Webcast was up against the introduction by Apple of the iPad.

My Thoughts

Coca-Cola is smart to utilize social media instead of ads for advertising methods. This may be a better route in order to save money and use free sites such as Facebook. Also, it showcases Coke's philanthropic side and partners them with the Boys & Girls Club of America.


  1. I went to Coke's FB page, but in order to enter the page, you have to allow Coke access to your profile, pictures and friends. I'm never comfortable with that, so I exited the page, never to return.

    How do others feel about these APIs that try to access/share all your info?

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  3. I'm with you all the way, Montyne. It's not even that I think there's anything of value contained in my profile. Well, except for my Social Security number and all of my PIN's. But it's that whole "sneaky thing" that gets me.

    If Coke wants to share a virtual gift with me and donate some money to the Boy's and Girl's Clubs, that's a great gesture. If they want to mine my profile for information under the guise of philanthropy, however, then that's a whole other ball game.

    By the way, how does one get a job like Pio Schunker has? Vice President for Creative Excellence? Give me a break. He's got to be Somebody Important's brother-in-law.

  4. As an Atlantan, I hated watching Coca Cola lose to Pepsi in the marketing wars, and now it seems like Coca Cola is losing to Pepsi in the social media marketing wars, too.

    I think the problem is that Coca Cola tries to hard to "control the message." And the message always gets messy when it comes to social media. (You can't please all of the people all of the time, and all that.) Plus, the "Cola Wars" are very polarizing as it is. Still, as a Coke drinker, I wish my "brand" would get on the ball!