SBD/January 27, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Coke's Polar Bears To Watch Super Bowl, Interact With Viewers Throughout Game

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Coca-Cola’s iconic polar bears will star in two commercials during Super Bowl XLVI and another after the game as part of the company’s “Open Happiness” campaign. The two bears will be cheering for opposing teams, which will be differentiated by the color of their respective scarves. The company’s first spot, titled “Superstition,” will air during the first quarter. The 30-second spot shows one of the bears crossing its arms and crunching up its toes in a ritual that it believes will help its team win. As the bear sits awkwardly, the other bear helps it drink a Coke. “What we want to communicate for the Super Bowl is the concept of open happiness, of bringing friends and families together,” said Coca-Cola North America CMO Alison Lewis. The company’s second spot comes in the second quarter and is titled “Catch.” Coca-Cola prepared two different versions of the 60-second ad and will decide which to air depending on what has happened in the game up to that point. It features one of the bears trying to catch a Coke bottle thrown to it. As the bear skates across ice juggling the bottle, it inadvertently crashes through other bears, who are made to appear as defenders, before finally catching the Coke in touchdown-like style as it falls toward the ground. The final spot is a 30-second commercial that airs on ESPN after the game entitled “Argh.” The company has two different versions of this ad as well and will air the one featuring the bear supporting the losing team. In it, the bear slowly walks outside with its head down after its team loses and lets out a roar to vent its frustration. When it comes back to slump down on the couch, the other bear hands it a Coke (Matt Schiffman, THE DAILY).

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: AD AGE's Natalie Zmuda noted having two different versions of an ad "appears to be a first-of-its-kind endeavor, requiring the beverage giant to have execs on site at NBC during the game." Coca-Cola North America Senior VP/Integrated Marketing Platforms & Content Pio Schunker said that execs will be in the traffic room to "decide which spot runs when the game goes to a commercial break." If the teams are tied, the decision will be made "based on the most-recent plays and which is deemed most in need of a Coke." Schunker: "It's probably not something (NBC) wants to set a precedent on, but the idea was appealing to them because of the buzz factor. It's certainly (tough) to do, but we managed to talk them into it for those reasons." Coca-Cola will "also have execs on hand at ESPN to manage" their final spot that will air after the game (ADAGE.com, 1/26).

IN-GAME INTERACTION: In addition to the commercials, Coca-Cola’s polar bears will be available to interact with fans during the game at www.CokePolarBowl.com. The live stream will show the bears' reactions to and comments on plays and commercials throughout the game. Users will be encouraged to interact with the bears by writing comments, asking questions and uploading photos and videos, which will be saved and featured on the site. Fans who want to gloat to friends when their team scores will be able to post links to short videos showing one of the bears dancing in celebration of a touchdown (Schiffman). Schunker said that Coca-Cola does "not anticipate people spending the entire game with the polar bears on an alternate screen." He said, "We imagine people might interact for a minute or two on any given time frame. We don't envision people spending four hours with the bears" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/27).

MULTIPLE PLATFORMS: In addition to the host website, viewers will be able to follow the bears’ comments on Twitter by searching the hashtag #GameDayPolarBears. Coca-Cola will also have live streaming available in banners on various sites like ESPN.com and NBC.com. “What we’re really looking for with this integrated interactive experience with digital, mobile, social, is much more engagement,” Lewis said. “The whole concept is about impression, which we’re going to get through the Super Bowl, but also expression, which is the whole idea of the sharing, the interactivity, the connectivity of the open communication.” Following the game, fans will be able to use either the “Ahhh Giver” or “Argh Reliever” Facebook app to send someone a digital coupon for a Coke out of happiness or out of sympathy. “Throughout the whole program we’re thinking about the before the Super Bowl, during the Super Bowl and after the Super Bowl,” Lewis said. “It’s helping to drive this program from entertainment value all the way through to commercial value" (Schiffman).
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