Coca-Cola has embraced social networking, expanding its online strategy with a new Cherry Coke MySpace campaign. Shane Steele, Coca-Cola's director of emerging media and online advertising, discusses the company's new approach to Web 2.0.
Shane Steele is Coca-Cola's director of emerging media and online advertising.
Krisserin Canary: The new Cherry Coke campaign is indicative of a move towards more interactive and involved MySpace campaigns. How did you approach creating this campaign? What were your priorities?
Shane Steele: Our main priority was to generate awareness and excitement with the relaunch of Cherry Coke and launch of Cherry Coke Zero amongst today's multicultural youth. Social networks offer an amazing opportunity to engage our target audience and communicate with them on their own terms. We needed to break-through the clutter and contemporize the brand by speaking to our consumers in a relevant and meaningful way. We understood the influence of the MySpace community and we wanted to give one lucky teen the chance to own it. We wanted to empower self-expression, inspire creativity and enable teens to showcase their passion for the Cherry Coke brand.
Canary: The recent redesign of Coca-Cola's brand site, MyCokeRewards, has shown a heavy reliance on user-generated interaction with the brand. What are you hoping the outcome of the contest will be with users?
Steele: While companies create brands, consumers can make or break them. Today's move to user-generated interaction and consumer-generated content represents an understanding of the role consumers play in defining and shaping brands. The Cherry Coke tagline, "Rediscover Cherry," encourages consumers to rediscover the brand's uniqueness. We hope this contest enables users to express themselves and to define what the Cherry Coke brand means to them. We are excited to see how Cherry Coke fans make the most of the opportunity to creatively express themselves with the branded assets.
Canary: How do you plan to incorporate the brand site with the MySpace campaign? Will there be future campaigns for other Coke products?
Steele: MyCoke.com is our Coca-Cola brand site devoted to the teen audience. Within the site, there is a section dedicated to Cherry Coke/Cherry Coke Zero. On some of those pages, we implemented banner ads to increase awareness of the MySpace program with our target audience. The banner ads message the Cherry Coke MySpace application and encourage users to go to MySpace to design their own Cherry profiles. And on the flip side, we do have links on the Cherry MySpace page directing to both MyCoke.com and MyCokerewards.com.
We are always looking to create unique and engaging marketing programs so there could definitely be opportunities for other Coca-Cola brands to have similar immersive campaigns.
Canary: After the contest is over, is there a long-tail plan to keep users interested in the MySpace campaign?
Steele: Once the contest concludes, users can continue to design their pages and save the code to the "About Me" section within their personal profiles. The Cherry Coke profile will remain a permanent feature within the MySpace community and we are considering additional avenues to sustain long-term interest.
Canary: What's your favorite part of the campaign?
Steele: We are positively overwhelmed by the creativity within the MySpace community. It is really amazing when you consider the variety of the individual entries and the creative talent behind each of them. We're glad that rules forbid us from voting as I'm not sure we could decide on just one winner. So, perhaps my favorite part is that the MySpace community gets the difficult task of selecting the winning design. And, the Music Visualizer widget on the download page is a work of art unto itself. Be sure to check it out!
Krisserin Canary is associate editor of iMedia Communications. .