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Coca-Cola Plans Mobile Social Network To Promote Sprite

Coca-Cola has used the Mobile Marketing Forum to announce its latest marketing venture—Sprite Yard. This will be a mobile social network which will let users create profiles and exchange photos and messages, which will be available as an application that can be downloaded for free via a shortcode reports RCR News. The service launched in China last week and will launch in the US on June 22nd.

Reuters has more information on the aims of Coca-Cola (“to recruit future generations of consumers”) and its assertion that mobile marketing is the way to reach young people. Coca-Cola will offer free music and video clips through the service to people who type in a pin number found under bottle lids. The company said it “worked with the top U.S. wireless providers on the service” which should make the delivery of the service easier, and also that it is talking with other social networks such as Facebook about “expanding its experience”, whatever that means. But this last little sentence could be important, because using a social network to promote a product is different to running a series of TV ads—if the promotion is successful Coke will have to continue running it indefinitely or risk annoying its customers by suddenly removing a service they’ve come to rely on, or at least use regularly. When online music store Coketunes NZ closed there were lots of questions about whether the music bought from the store would still work, and what functionality would continue to work and what wouldn’t. With Sprite Yard, Coke may be trying to set up an exit strategy whereby it can stop running the social network without annoying its users by palming it off onto a stand-alone network.

The New York Times has a piece on this—if you skip to the bottom you can see cautions from analysts. These include the required permanency of the site as well as the difficulty in becoming a media site, which advertisers have usually left to content producers. Bud.tv is brought out as an example. My favorite quote: ”Nobody wants to go hang out with Sprite,” said Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms for Organic, a digital advertising agency in the Omnicom Group. “It takes a lot for a brand to ask that of a customer. You really have to be getting something compelling in return.”

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June 7, 2007 - Posted by | mobile applications, Mobile events

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