Coca-Cola wants you to make room for a couple polar bears at your Super Bowl party. For the soft drinks giant’s two in-game ads on Feb. 5, animated polar bears – originally introduced as Coke mascots in 1922 – will appear on-screen and online via CokePolarBowl.com.
Online, the mascots will react in real time to the game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, donning scarves to show their team allegiance. For example, the Giants bear will cheer when that team scores. What’s more, through a couple of puppeteers manipulating the bears’ virtual reactions with handheld controls, the characters will show approval and other emotions as the big game’s ads roll throughout the telecast.
It might be worth checking in on the mascots just to see their reactions to Pepsi’s two spots.
As part of the effort, driven by Coke creative agency Wieden+Kennedy, the animated characters will appear online occasionally with an iPad-like tablet (dubbed a “BearPad”) and smart phone. During such moments, the bears will either tweet or post Facebook status updates to the Coke brand’s official social media accounts. The New England-rooting mascot will be represented by the Twitter hash-tag “NE_Bear”, while his counterpart will be tweeting via “NY_Bear”.
During the game, banners running on publisher networks will include real-time video of the mascots’ current actions.
Pio Schunker, Coke’s SVP for creative excellence, explained that his brand doesn’t expect digital audiences to engage with the mascots for the entire game broadcast. People will watch them for “a few minutes here, a few minutes there,” he predicted, during a press briefing at W+K’s New York office mid-afternoon on Thursday.
On the metrics front, Schunker said, “At the very base level, we will look at tweets, retweets, how much the content is shared, the mentions. [They] are all things we are looking at in terms of reach and impressions… Though this is not about selling Cokes. It’s about selling moments of thought.”
Coke’s real-time plans for Super Bowl Sunday don’t stop with the bears. Its second quarter spot – called “Catch” – comes in two versions. Which one runs depends on the team winning at that time. If New England is ahead, the Giants-rooting bear will take center stage, while the real-time online feed will feature the other bear. In the case of a tie, explained Jeff Gillette, W+K integrated creative director, the bear will represent the team that has experienced more tension during the game.
“What’s exciting for us is the true integrated nature of this campaign,” Gillette said. “It didn’t come out of a TV spot and then tacked on a digital idea to it.”
Coke will run two commercials during the NBC game telecast, including a :60 spot in the first quarter that’s set in stone. It will be teased online leading up to Super Bowl XLVI. A :30 spot will run during ESPN’s post-game coverage, once again depicting the polar bears and involving two creative versions. Similar to the second quarter ad, the winning team will dictate the version that runs on broadcast vs. the one seen online.
The brand’s digital media plan leading up to and during the game includes Facebook (Marketplace and Premium ads), Twitter (Promoted Tweet and Promoted Account buys), Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, SB Nation, ESPN, and NBC.
Additionally, a handful of digital pieces will further engagement after the game. Social media chatter will be streamed on the brand’s YouTube channel. On Facebook, users will be able to give friends on the social site redeemable Coke coupons through the brand’s weeks-old “Ahh Giver” app. For the Super Bowl, Coke’s Facebook page will also involve an “Arghhh Giver” app so consumers can gift a soda to fans of the losing team.
Lastly, W+K’s Gillette gave background on how the animated polar bears were constructed. He credited technology firms Framestore and Animal Logic, as well as digital shop 360i, as key contributors to the initiative.
“More than studying a lot of football – we studied a lot of polar bears,” Gillette said.