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Coca-Cola drives brand awareness via mobile gaming initiative

Coca-Cola has rolled out a branded mobile gaming application that targets teens and young adults and lets them engage with the beverage giant on a deeper level.

The Crabs and Penguin game, which was developed by Coca-Cola?s Content Factory in conjunction with Ember Lab, is meant to build a long-term engagement with consumers by letting players unlock levels and learn about a story. The app is available for free download from Apple?s App Store.

?It's clear that mobile phones are a passion point for teens and young adults,? said Stafford Green, head of the Coca-Cola Content Factory, Atlanta.

?Another key passion is music - that is why you see that we not only made visual investments in the cinematic graphics and gameplay ? but also investment in the soundtrack,? he said.

?Coke makes moments of happiness, and this game is just a virtual version of that,? Mr. Green said.

Mobile branding
Characters and products in the game are branded with Coca-Cola?s logo, which helps enforce the brand throughout the game.

In the game, users guide a crab through of series of races and obstacles to return a soccer ball to penguin characters. Through the game, players come into contact with animals such as dolphins and polar bears.

The game?s goal is to spread happiness, which is Coke?s tag line.

Social media is also used in the game to let users share their experiences via Facebook and Twitter. Not only is social media heavily mobile, but in the case of a game app it helps users spread the word about the game to friends and family, which can increase app downloads.

Branding the game with Coca-Cola?s logo works in the company?s favor because they are able to keep its message top of mind as users play the game.

The company is working on an Android version of the app.

App nation
Coca-Cola is no stranger to using one-off, branded apps for marketing campaigns.

The company has built out apps for specific events and purposes.

For example, Coca-Cola recently rolled out The My Beatmaker app for the upcoming Olympics that lets users create their own beats by using their device?s movement.

The app is part of a broader marketing strategy that also includes SMS and mobile Web (see story).

Additionally, last year Coca-Cola used an iPhone app as part of its long-term Arctic Home campaign where users could share content, donate to the cause and play games to collect rewards that could be used to redeem prizes (see story).

By making multiple apps for specific campaigns, Coca-Cola can is banking on consumers downloading and interacting with them on a regular basis, making a game a natural way to extend the life an app.

"A game can reinforce the brand on several levels. A game app can create an emotional connection with the target audience, solidify the game player's brand loyalty, reinforce the brand's credibility and potentially motivate the young person to buy more product," said Scott McCormick, partner at Float Mobile Learning, Morton, IL.   

Mr. McCormick is not affiliated with Coca-Cola. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

"If the game is one-dimensional with easy-to achieve goals, it will have a short life. If it offers degrees of complexity and challenges, it can draw players back for more. Incentives, badging and prizes can also hold a player's attention. If the game looks attractive with a good story or fun characters, it can motivate downloads. So can a strong social media and Web campaign that targets game players," he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York