When you think of e-commerce, you probably don’t immediately think of Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew and Bud Light. In fact, you might not ever think of those brands in that context. However, all three recognize the importance of staying at the forefront of consumers’ minds and putting out strong online content despite their offline product offerings.
Between the three brands, they have more than 1 billion Facebook fans, in addition to millions more on Twitter, and hundreds of thousands on Instagram and YouTube. Coca-Cola is also on Pinterest and Tumblr. But the beverage brands’ content strategies go above and beyond social media, which is practically a requirement in 2015.
“Nobody has a Bud Light in their hand all the time, even if they’re a loyal Bud Light drinker,” says Gerry Moran, global head of social media and content marketing for Cognizant Technology Solutions. “They’re trying to be where the people are, and sort of expand that presence when they’re not consuming the product.”
When it comes to keeping in consumers’ minds, Moran points out that strong content also engenders increased loyalty, which is particularly important for beverage brands. Just check out the look on your friend’s face the next time a server tells your Diet Coke devotee friend, “We have Pepsi; is that OK?” It’s not.
Loyalty also leads to user-generated content (UGC), which Bud Light probably knew when it hosted its second annual Whatever, USA event on Catalina Island, California this summer. Giving Millennials Willy Wonka-style golden tickets to what promised to be a really fun party, Bud Light ensured a slew of content being created across various social media platforms. In addition, the brand shot video to be used for other, unrelated campaigns.
Whatever, USA was part of Bud Light’s Content Studio, a strategy that turns the brand’s events and activations into film sets for content creation. More recently, Bud Light partnered with Google to reach football fans with the Full Season Football program, which consists of NFL content on Google properties. Content includes pre-roll ads from brands – such as Bud Light, the NFL’s official beer sponsor – as well as news and scores, all of which users can see at the top of their Google search results and on the NFL’s YouTube channel.
“The 21- to 27-year-old fan is key for us and they are following the sport in a totally different way than a decade or two decades ago,” says Lucas Herscovici, vice president of consumer connections at Anheuser-Busch. “Interactivity drives their passion; they want to feel connected to the game through more than just the TV screen. The Google Football program gives us the opportunity to intersect with fans before, during and after the game, providing them the custom content, data and multi-screen viewing experience they’re looking for.”
Content marketing is nothing new for Coca-Cola. The soft drink recognized the shifting media landscape years ago, launching its Content 2020 strategy with the aim of creating a lot of content to engage consumers in the world of 24/7 connectedness.
Since then, Coca-Cola has gone all in, from rebranding its website to a digital magazine called Coca-Cola Journey to developing a knack for creating popular videos, amassing more than 700 million views on YouTube. The #MakeItHappy campaign was among the most popular during the last Super Bowl and this summer, the brand created a video for Ramadan that quickly went viral in the Middle East. In the record-breaking video, Coca-Cola eschewed labels, both on its blank cans and with the campaign’s stereotype-shattering group that included a tatted up TED speaker and a skydiver who uses a wheelchair.
#NoLabels is the most recent example of Coca-Cola managing to turn its product into content. Though the cans had no labels, they were still totally recognizable. This campaign followed the wildly-popular Share a Coke, which also inspired countless pieces of UGC and even a wedding proposal.
“Packaging has always been key, going back to the cereal box days in the ’60s; that was content marketing, too,” Moran says, adding that it’s just intensified now, with the Internet resulting in countless marketing channels. “It was like, here’s my product, let me put it in a box and then I have this kid who’s an influencer asking, ‘Hey mom, can you buy more Captain Crunch?”
Mountain Dew is another brand with experience-based content. Over the past year, keeping on-brand with its adventure sports-focused image, Mountain Dew’s content strategy has increasingly shifted toward virtual reality (VR).
In March, the Pepsi-owned soft drink brand brought Oculus hardware to Vail, Colorado, for the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships. With the headset, consumers were able to experience backcountry snowboarding with the pros. Last month, Mountain Dew has since incorporated skateboarding and NASCAR into its virtual reality (VR) content strategy. Last month, users got the opportunity to experience driving with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver, right before he raced at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Moran points out that while VR isn’t accessible – or even appealing – to every consumer, it’s a great way to tap into a particular psychographic.
“If you look at your customers like a pie, some are big on VR and some are on Pinterest,” he says. “It’s a way to segment and send that right person the right message on the right channel at the right time.”