- Coca-Cola debuted the first holiday campaign under its new "Real Magic" platform, with a focus on communicating festive joy and inclusion, according to an announcement.
- "Real Magic at Christmas" features a partnership with the fan connection app Cameo in North America. By visiting a special holiday hub, consumers can request a personalized video message from Santa that will be sent out at random throughout the season and can be shared online via social media or text message. The window for requests ends Nov. 16, per website details, and participants will receive an email notifying them when their video is ready.
- Coke and Cameo are also hosting a virtual public event, where Santa will introduce the soda marketer's latest global holiday ad, a 2:30 short titled "Chimney" that shows a community coming together to construct a makeshift chimney for Saint Nick by reusing cardboard boxes. The spot, which includes shorter clips and was developed by agency dentsuMB UK, will premiere on Nov. 15 across TV, online and cinemas in the U.S. and Canada.
Coke shifts its longstanding focus on personalization further into the mobile space through a tie-up with Cameo that gifts people custom video messages from Santa around the holidays. The soda brand also says this is the first time its take on the Christmas figure — who's been a mainstay in Coke's seasonal advertising since the 1920s — has made an "IRL," or in real life, appearance.
Along with the personalized video play, Saint Nick will factor into a virtual event premiering the "Chimney" spot, which plans to have pop-ins from other celebrity guests. The icon will additionally travel with the Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan, a roving experience where families can receive free printed photos with the bearded character and sample Coca-Cola Zero sugar, a recently reformulated offering that has become more central to Coke's messaging in a competitive market for better-for-you drinks.
Cameo has continued to pick up traction with marketers seeking to establish a deeper connection with consumers. The app lets users pay to request personalized videos from a host of celebrities, influencers and other public figures, typically at a cost. As COVID-19 shuttered many Hollywood productions and live events, the service took off, and some creators have earned a good chunk of change simply by sending tailored messages shot in a DIY fashion. Cameo paid out $75 million to its creator base last year.
"Real Magic at Christmas" broadly centers on themes of coming together, a through line that might resonate amid a pandemic that's kept friends and family apart. The "Chimney" spot, directed by Sam Brown of Rogue Films, depicts a boy living in an apartment complex who's inspired to construct his own chimney even as the atmosphere around him feels glum, with neighbors walled off. As more people in the building see his project take shape, they join in on the action and are rewarded for their teamwork with gifts down their makeshift chutes on Christmas.
A more digital-forward holiday push from Coke comes as the marketer continues to shake up its strategy. "Real Magic," which rolled out in September, is the first major overhaul for the soft drink maker in five years and encompasses new ads and altered logo designs. A guiding aspect of the initiative is addressing a fragmented world in need of community through shared moments.
Some components of the platform have received pushback. One spot targeted at Gen Z gamers led to jeers on social media from hobbyists skeptical of how tapped in the brand is to the category, as reported in The Drum. But the holidays, where Coke has well-established equity, could be a safer bet.
On the marketing operations end, Coke has rejiggered its partnership framework following an extensive agency review that kicked off last December. This week, it named WPP as its new global marketing network partner. It will work with a bespoke unit from the ad-holding group called OpenX on end-to-end creative, media, data and marketing technology across its portfolio. Dentsu was named a complementary media partner for select regions, while Publicis Groupe and Interpublic Group of Companies landed on an open-source strategic roster that will handle one-third of the beverage giant's marketing work.