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Coca-Cola exec: Make mobile the first screen to capitalize on opportunity

NEW YORK ? An executive with Coca-Cola at the MMA Forum yesterday said that the big opportunity in mobile comes from the fact that it is the lowest common denominator that simultaneously offers high engagement.

The ?Add Value & Educate from Within: How Coca-Cola?s Mobile Center of Excellence Keeps them Best-in-Class? session focused on the company?s efforts to bridge the physical and digital worlds using mobile. The Coca-Cola Mobile Center for Excellence began in 2007 as a grassroots effort to start an internal conversation across departments to share knowledge about how mobile can connect the consumer experience and drive engagement.

?Open collaboration is imperative,? said Tara Scarlett, senior manager of CRM and precision marketing at The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta.

?Being able to break down those walls and have those conversations is in the best interest for your organization and for mobile in general,? she said.

?Plan with mobile as the first screen. The fact that the lowest common denominator offers the highest possible engagement is a big opportunity.?

Technique vs. strategy
Since the early days, the initiative has grown to include many departments across the organization as well as regular conferences that are attended by up to 850 customers and brand associates. In December 2011, the center was formalized for the first time as a recognized entity inside Coca-Cola.

The center was built around three core ideas. One is the need to infuse operational change so that various departments can work closely together to support digital strategies such as mobile.

The second principal is the need for a tactical mobile road map for brand programs. Coca-Cola?s formula is to put 70 percent of resources toward scaling already proven tactics such as texting and the mobile Web, 20 percent to lay a foundation for what is coming over the next few years and 10 percent toward testing new ideas.

?We talk about mobile tactics, but what is the strategy?," Ms. Scarlett said.

?There are a lot cool things coming down the pipe and being able to allocate a portion of what you do for that is critical,? she said. ?Don?t be afraid to fail.?

The final element was the funding and development of a mobility library that features many of the latest technology that can be experimented with.

One of the initiatives to come out of the Mobile Center of Excellence was Coca-Cola?s campaign for this year?s Super Bowl game.

Second screen experiences
Recognizing that consumers are increasingly using mobile devices while they are watching big events such as the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola set out to design content around that game that would drive engagement without competing with the game itself.

The campaign featured the brand?s polar bear mascots as football fans routing for opposite teams and watching and reacting to the game in real-time. In addition to TV spots, there was a live stream on and in rich-media banners on media sites featuring the bears reacting to the games and commercials. A Twitter and Facebook integration included the bears posting notes to fans.

The effort was a significant success, with nine million people streaming the online content during the game and spending an average of 28 minutes engaging with the content.

?The success of this effort was rooted in the Mobile Center of Excellence,? said Chris Bigda, connections planning and investment, media and interactive at The Coca-Cola Co.

Coca-Cola is also working with mobile marketing services companies such as Mozes, which is helping the brand connect with consumers attending various physical events such as concerts and sporting events.

At the Essence Music Festival in 2010, Coca-Cola and Mozes ran a promotion from the stage inviting attendees to text in to receive tickets for an event the following day. Over 3,500 hundred audience members participated and 500 tickets were distributed in real-time.

Coca-Cola also worked with Mozes on a promotion with Dollar General involving a sweepstakes that could be entered via several channels. The mobile activation took place in the physical stores and 17 percent of the entries came from physical locations.

Coca-Cola and Mozes will also expand to colleges this fall for the texting program designed to get the audience engaged.

?Marketers have long been wanting to connect with consumers in a one-to-one way and mobility is really opening that avenue,? said Dorrian Porter, founder and CEO of Mozes Inc., Palo Alto, CA.

?Mobile is merging the physical and digital world,? he said.

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