Like reindeer, fruitcake and mistletoe, ugly sweaters have become synonymous with the holidays.
And in an effort to engage the Millennials that love these sweaters this holiday season and to push its messaging to enjoy everything, Coke Zero has launched what it calls the world's first tool for creating customized holiday sweaters, the Coke Zero Sweater Generator.
In its first 36 hours, the generator has resulted in nearly 18,000 sweaters, according to Bobby Oliver, senior brand manager at Coke Zero.
For two weeks beginning November 18, Coke Zero says it is inviting tacky sweater enthusiasts to "unleash their inner grandma and design the ultimate holiday sweater."
To create a sweater, users can choose sweater style and color, as well as pattern, pattern color and trim color and from among graphics like polar bears, dolphins, moose, unicorns and even what appears to be a pirate snowman.
"Every sweater element - the cut, color, pattern, icons and even background - is completely customizable to accurately reflect a person's true sweater spirit," Coke says.
Once the designer is happy with his or her sweater, he or she can also pick from background images including Northern lights, flamingos and the beach and submit via Facebook, Twitter or email address.
Finished sweaters are displayed in a gallery on the Sweater Generator website, where consumers can vote on their favorites.
On December 1, the 100 sweaters with the most votes will be "handcrafted by loving machines" and shipped to their creators, Coke says.
The initiative launched in mid-November to allow enough time to design, share, vote for, produce and ship these sweaters before holiday parties, Oliver says.
"As we were working with our agency Droga5 on our holiday plan, we noticed a phenomenon that resonates with Millennials with ugly sweater parties," Oliver says. "We thought it was a fun idea and, in our research, we found Millennials spend weeks if not months searching for tacky sweaters. It's the way they celebrate the holidays. They go to thrift stores, they search their parents' closets, they're looking all over the place."
With Coke Zero's Sweater Generator, Millennials can instead create "what they deem the most audacious sweater and put their own creative spin on it," Oliver says. "It's a fun way for us to leverage our brand, [which has always been] edgier."
Coke Zero is encouraging fans to use and follow the #sweatergenerator hashtag on Twitter.
Sweater Generator promotion also includes paid posts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a digital media partnership with comedy video website Funny or Die.
Coke Zero has 5.8 million fans and 130,000 followers.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
March 19, 2014