The soft drink giant has partnered with Regal Cinemas in its Tweet-a-Coke program, which attempts to follow Starbucks' lead, as well as to talk to teens in a new way.
As listless teenagers across America look at each other with apathy this summer and ask each other what they want to do, Coca-Cola and Regal Cinemas have teamed up in an attempt capture the attention of these young consumers when they finally settle on going to the movies for the umpteenth time.
The program, Tweet-a-Coke, is a six-week pilot program that is part of the brand's summertime Share a Coke campaign. It enables fans, but particularly young fans, to buy Cokes for their friends at Regal Cinemas via Twitter.
To participate, consumers connect credit cards to their Twitter accounts and then tweet the intended recipient with @TweetACoke, the word "enjoy," and the friend's Twitter handle. The recipient will then receive a $5 e-gift for a small beverage at Regal via the social network.
Jennifer Fisher, director of digital strategy and digital platforms at Coke, says the e-gift includes a URL ownable only by the recipient, which is then redeemable at the movies on a mobile device.
The move is clearly a nod to predecessor Starbucks, which debuted its similar Tweet-a-Coffee initiative in November.
A Starbucks rep did not respond to a request for comment by deadline, but some reports say Tweet-a-Coffee, which also allows consumers to send $5 e-gifts, resulted in 37,000 coffees sent by 27,000 users to the tune of $180,000 in the first month.
Fisher says Coke saw the Starbucks program and thought it was a great fit for the Share a Coke program, which also includes 20-ounce bottles that have replaced the Coca-Cola logo with 250 of the nation's most popular names among teens and Millennials.
The Share a Coke website allows consumers to share virtual customized Coke bottles and to see whether their names are among the lucky 250 available on bottles in stores.
Share a Coke will run through August.
Coke opted to launch Tweet-a-Coke with Regal because Fisher says the brand wanted to test the program with a partner that can use mobile coupons and "because it's a summertime program and we're talking to teens and we know they're in the cinema going to movies left and right."
Depending how the Regal partnership goes, Fisher says the brand would love to extend the program to the holiday time frame to "do something bigger."
Fisher did not have data to share on the number of Cokes tweeted to date.
The handle @TweetACoke, however, has just 241 followers as of this publication, nowhere near @CocaCola's 2.61 million.
As of June 26, Regal says it operates 574 theaters in 42 states, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia.
Paul Chaney, principal of boutique agency Chaney Marketing Group, notes the Tweet-a-Coke program is convenient, not unlike the way Facebook facilitates gift giving for friends' birthdays. He also likens the broader Share a Coke campaign to a campaign from Heinz in the U.K. in which consumers were able to send personalized cans of soup to sick friends.
"The Tweet-a-Coke campaign resembles that to some extent, but just think how cool it would be if Coke could mimic the Heinz approach and allow users to send a bottle personalized with the recipient's name," Chaney says. "Now that would be something to tweet about."
He also points out that sparkling beverage company Jones Soda has a similar program called MyJones that allows consumers to design their own labels with photos and messaging.
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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.
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