Coke Adds Interactive Fizz to New Ad Campaign

Looking to buff up its stodgy Classic brand, Coca-Cola on Thursday kicked off a new advertising campaign that features a variety of interactive components, in an attempt by the beverage giant to capture a larger share of the youth market.

While the overwhelming thrust of the “Coca-Cola … Real” platform will be television advertising featuring celebrities like Penelope Cruz and Courtney Cox, Coke is seeking to drive young consumers to Cokemusic.com, a destination site that offers Coke consumers a chance to play interactive games, download music, and see previews of Coke commercials featuring R&B singer Mya with rapper Common.

“That is where teens and young people are hanging out,” said Doug Rollins, an interactive brand manager at Coke. “It allows the brands to connect with them and them to connect with each other.”

In order to fully use the site, launched in June 2002, visitors are required to register with Coke, giving information such as date of birth, zip code and gender. After registering, Cokemusic.com members can create a virtual character that allows them to interact with other site members in the “Coke Studios” chat room. Members earn “decibels” by interacting with the site and entering Coke cap codes. The decibels can be used to furnish members’ custom-designed virtual space.

The site also offers the chance to win prizes, send e-cards, and mix music samples from a variety of artists.

The interactive campaign was done by StudioCom, an Atlanta-based agency that handles Coke’s Internet marketing.

In September, Coke used Cokemusic.com in an under-the-cap “American Idol” promotion that offered users the chance to win the distinctive red couches from the “American Idol” Coke-themed “red room.”

The “Real” campaign for its flagship product comes as it battles with rival Pepsi for supremacy in the $30 billion U.S. cola market. A key part of the strategy is to give Coke a hipper, younger appeal, similarly to the way the company tried to project that brand image in the “Life Tastes Good” campaign two years ago.

A centerpiece of the launch is the American Music Awards, which will award the Coca-Cola New Music Award during its Jan. 13 telecast. Mya and Common will announce the winner, with the award scheduled to be followed by a 90-second commercial debuting Mya and Common’s “Real Compared To What” Coke commercial. Cokemusic.com will preview the song three days before it is aired, giving member a sneak preview and behind-the-scenes footage of the awards show.

Coke has complemented the music site with an ad buy that includes taking over MSN’s homepage during the week of Jan. 13, swathing it in Coke’s colors. Coke will also be the only advertiser featured in AOL’s teen section for two days and the main page will feature Coke’s colors for the week. The company also plans ad buys on other sites popular with teens, including MTV.com, Alloy and UGO.

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