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Coca-Cola exec: YouTube stars are the new Hollywood celebrities

NEW YORK ? An executive from Coca-Cola at the 2015 Integrated Marketing Week detailed how the brand uses YouTube and its stars as a jumping-off point to experiment with marketing innovation and connect with millennials. 

The beverage brand recognizes the pull that YouTube celebrities have with millennials is greater than the traditional Hollywood star and has been using this to its advantage. Coca-Cola has been leveraging the stars and YouTube itself to experiment with marketing and further develop campaigns.

"First and foremost taking a step back, my job is to drive brand look for Coca-Cola," said Russ Mischner, senior manager of integrated marketing content at the Coca-Cola Company. "So any element of an integrated marketing campaign needs to have a strong role for brand at the center of it and be able to achieve our objectives.

"But we are able to see with a platform like YouTube, we can try new and different things and be fairly known with it as well and learn along the way," he said. "So we have experiences where we start small, actually."

The Integrated Marketing Week was organized by the Direct Marketing Association.

Now, new and next
Coca-Cola focuses on three facets of marketing: the now, the new and the next, described by the executive. The new is anything the brand is currently doing in any space, while the next is its succeeding innovation Coca-Cola is bringing in.

That new category is where Coca-Cola is spending a substantial amount of time on YouTube. However, as the social media channel has become so influential, the platform is starting to move up in importance for the brand and takeover the now classification.

"We learn quickly, we optimize and then we are able to scale even larger and we also bucket our content into different buckets as well," Mr. Mischner said. "We look at it really as the now, the new and the next. 

"So we have the now that we prioritize which really takes the majority of our attention and our investment," he said. "We have the new which is up and coming opportunities. 

"Online video, and YouTube specifically probably falls in the next category for us for the most part but more and more its falling within that now for us as well. Then we have the next which is test and learn, so we know that that's to come we test it and then hopefully that falls into the now for us."

Mr. Mischner with Laura of Laura in the Kitchen and moderator Beau Avril, head of product commercialization at Google

One example of the beverage brand using YouTube and its biggest names was a recent video ad featuring a group of singers, all known for their presence on YouTube, sitting around a table together singing while using Coke bottles as instruments like the traditional cups game. Not only was the video eye-popping because it was fun and interesting, but it leveraged faces that resonate with millennials. 

Coke knows happiness
Another big campaign for the brand was its ad during the SuperBowl with YouTube sensation Kid President. The campaign focused on spreading the message of positivity through the digital space, which is known for its negative presence.

Coca-Cola?s presence in the ad was not in the forefront. The ad focused on Kid President and the campaign partner, Soul Pancake, and promoted the hashtag #MakeItHappy.

The brand leveraged all platforms for both these campaigns, but more importantly gave it compassion. The campaigns touched consumer?s hearts and supports Coca-Cola?s authentic representation of a genuine brand that cares about its customers while simultaneously using channels and content that is noticeable to consumers and in particular, millennials. 

Mr. Mischner explained that it is important for Coca-Cola to converse with a wide range of experts in the marketing field to have a substantial range of options to come up with unique and engaging content. 

"I think that we have to put our minds in the space of the audience so even though we might not, on face value know who [the YouTube personalities] are, your kids definitely do and teens definitely do which is our core audience for share a coke," Mr. Mischner said. 

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer