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Coca-Cola?s mobilized billboard engaged narcissistic Gen Z, delivering 350M social impressions

Looking to build on the success of its 2014 Share a Coke campaign, Coca-Cola integrated a Times Square billboard with a mobile activation this summer that helped passersby to seamlessly engage with the brand across multiple channels. 

The digital billboard encouraged those in Times Square to enter Tweet their first name and see trivia related to their name show up on the screen and receive a photo when it appeared that could be shared. During a three week period, the What?s In a Name campaign generated 5.4 million audience impressions, 350 million social impressions and 42,000 social posts with the #COKEMYNAME hashtag. 

?We couldn?t have done this without a real-time mobile strategy,? said Jeff Tan, vice president and director of strategy at Posterscope USA.  ?Almost all of the interactions from Twitter came from mobile devices, with the overwhelming majority of inputs within the immediate vicinity of the Times Square billboard. 

?This campaign worked well because it matched a key consumer insight ? self-promotion and wanting 15 seconds of fame ? to an activation, giving consumers their 15 seconds of fame on a huge Times Square billboard,? he said. ?Further, it demonstrates the willingness of consumers, particularly Gen Z?s, to interact with OOH using their mobile.?

Big name
With younger consumers continuing to drink less soda, Coca-Cola has been pulling out all the stops to build goodwill with consumers through the Share a Coke campaign, which is a couple of years old and sees cans and bottles of the soda personalized with popular names and other monikers. The international campaign features different names in different regions and has been extended into digital and mobile channels via a variety of tactics. 

Looking to ramp up its outreach to tech- and social-savvy Gen Z, Coca-Cola partnered with Posterscope, Clear Channel Outdoor, Google and ICUC on the What?s In a Name campaign with the goal of driving social participation. 

Working Google, Coca-Cola developed a responsive Web site,, where consumers can input their first name and discover fun facts and trivia associated with their name. 

Wanting to also bridge the gap between the real world and the digital world, Coca-Cola worked with Clear Channel, Google and Posterscope to develop and broadcast an out-of-home version of What?s In a Name on a billboard in Times Square. 

Times Square visitors could Tweet in their first name with the hashtag #CokeMyName to see a personalized story about their name broadcast on the screen.

Name dropping
Once a name is tweeted from a consumer?s mobile phone, it is automatically submitted to the Share a Coke API. If there is a direct match with one of the 160,000 Share a Coke names, the API outputs facts to the Clear Channel server. 

The facts are based on historical Google data and are rendered as static cards. 

Following the tweet from a consumer, every step in the process is fully automated, with the entire process taking less than one minute. 

Everyone who tweeted to the hashtag received a real-time response from the @CocaCola Twitter account, thanking them for their participation, written by a real human at ICUC to ensure authenticity.

Each name was displayed on the digital billboard for 15 seconds so those participating could get their 15 seconds of fame. 

A camera on a building opposite the billboard automatically snapped a photo of each name on the digital billboard. These photos were then tweeted back to the consumer. 

All social mentions included the What?s in a Name Web URL. 

Expecting more
The campaign also delivered an international reach for Coca-Cola, with  tweets containing the hashtag mentioned across the United States and in 110 countries.

The strategy was built from three key insights about Gen Z highlighted in a consumer survey conducted by Posterscope. They were that Gen Z consumers are addicted to their smartphones, using them primarily for social media and taking photos; these consumers are eager to interact with brands and expect much more from advertising than predecessors, and they are very narcissistic, wanting to be famous so they can share it on social media. 

?Posterscope?s research reveals that this new generation of consumer expects brands to tell a story that resonates with them personally,? Mr. Tan said. ?We took this aspect of personalization and brought it to a new level.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York