The new, updated Netsize Guide (released in December 2010) counts over almost 2,500 downloads. A main attraction is the exclusive interview with Tom Daly, Coca-Cola Group Manager, Global Connections,a mover in the mobile space who walks us through some of the brands’ recent marketing campaigns — and impressive results.
Few major brands are as sophisticated in their use of the mobile channel as Coca-Cola. To date the company has embraced a wide variety of activities and mechanisms, including apps, games, high-performing SMS campaigns, and even a music download store. At the other end of the spectrum, Coca-Cola has also reported successful mobile commerce trials involving mobile phones and specially equipped vending machines.
Coca-Cola is also one of the first to actively embrace branded apps. In December 2010 it joined with the GSMA to sponsor the Brand App Challenge, a competition in which mobile app developers created “brand apps” for a select group of global consumer brands, including Coca-Cola, with its Coca-Cola, Coke Zero and Diet Coke brands.
While Coke has been quick to jump into branded apps, some recent reports question whether applications can deliver positive results across the board.
A survey of 781 adults in the U.S. conducted by EffectiveUI on behalf of Harris Interactive found the vast majority (76 percent) of mobile app users felt that all brand name companies and organizations should have mobile apps to make shopping or interacting with them easier. However, 38 percent of mobile application users revealed they were not satisfied with most of the apps currently available from their favorite brands. What’s more, 69 percent reported that a brand name mobile app that is not useful, helpful or easy to use, results in a negative perception about the brand.
“Mobile applications are the sure fire way to extend a brand,” Rebecca Flavin, CEO of EffectiveUI, said in a statement. “It’s time for organizations to understand how to fully leverage the mobile channel and optimize a user-centered approach to drive adoption, as well as reinforce and drive brand loyalty.”
What is the business value of branded apps? Which marketing approaches deliver the best results? How has Coke harnessed mobile to encourage brand engagement and deliver effective (even location-linked) mobile advertising? We ask Tom Daly, Coca-Cola Group Manager, Global Connections.
Q: Coca-Cola is a mover in the mobile space. Your company is a premium member of Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and active in promoting the benefits of the mobile channel. Why is mobile so central to your strategy?
A: You need to first understand how we see mobile. For us it’s all about idea of making mobile an “enabler of desire”. Essentially, our mobile strategy was written some 70+ years ago, way before the first cellular connection was ever made. Back then it was about putting our brands “within arms’ reach of desire”. That sentiment was expressed by Robert Woodruff, who was our chairman. That was the way we defined the company’s role as a brand marketer, and as a partner to the bottling companies that manufacture and distribute our brands and our retail partners who carry our brands.
Our task is to create desire for the brands that we create. We have a choice: we can make the mobile phone and enabler of desire, or we can make it a barrier to desire. We chose to make mobile an enabler.
Q: Desire is the end-game – making consumers want to and be able to connect with your brands. What are the recent mobile activities you have pursued to achieve this goal?
A: We use all the mobile mechanisms available. Take simple SMS. We use SMS in a campaign that allows consumers to earn free airtime. They just purchase a Coke and text the code on the packaging to receive free airtime or free text messages. Teenagers, in particular, love our brands and love their phones, so it’s a natural marriage, if you will. It’s a great opportunity to leverage consumer desire for Coca-Cola and mobile.
For the World Cup we did a great program where we let consumers express their feelings about the brands using mobile. Consumers could upload videos of how they celebrated the goals. So this is a great expression of people’s passion and energy for football, which is their same energy and passion they have about Coca-Cola. We connected the two using mobile videos.
Q: One of your most successful campaigns has been Gimme Credit, which received an award from the MMA for its effectiveness and exemplary use of mobile. What can you tell me about the campaign and the key learnings?
A: Yes, that’s the campaign I mentioned that gives consumers free airtime. We have rolled it out in multiple markets and it’s been successful everywhere we’ve tried it. As a company we are testing and learning what works not in one market; but in many markets. We’ve learned that there are certain things that consumers everywhere want and Gimme Credit is success because people want free airtime and rewards for their purchases.
We’ve done something like Gimme Credit in India, the U.K. and Germany, and we’ve done it in tests in the U.S. as well. The challenge – and the opportunity – is how to get scale. The next step is to get the scale of The Coca-Cola Company and the scale of mobile technology aligned so we can really start building bigger, more broadly accessible programs. That way, by the time we get to events like the London Olympics or the next World Cup, we will have the ability to deploy these mobile campaigns on a much larger scale and on a much more global level.
Q: Gimme Credit is universally accepted, universally appreciated. But brands still have to have a local focus. What are the tensions or challenges of being a global brand and maintaining a local focus?
A: The challenge is to develop powerful core ideas for a campaign and then to localize the “art” of execution, while scaling the “science”. One way we accomplish that is to empower a country to take the lead for certain global initiatives. For example this year’s  Festive campaign is a global campaign with the digital –including mobile – led by teams in Germany. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, or Kwanza, or Christmas, or have just celebrated Ramadan – it’s all about family and bringing people together. Coca-Cola is a part of that experience, but there’s enough that is similar to create common experiences around the world and across digital and mobile campaigns. Broadly speaking, that’s the territory of the “big idea”. From there, we find ways to scale while at the same time enabling maximum flexibility for localization.
Q: Staying with the global push for a moment, how do you manage these, to drive global mobile services and marketing innovation at Coca-Cola?
A: It’s a disciplined process, as you might imagine. The key is to keep a clear understanding of the roll out and who is doing what. So, we may have a single lead agency for mobile, a company that is doing work at the center. The work they do and the deliverables they are responsible for are clearly defined. There may be a transition to a local agency that has the latitude to take a hand- off related to certain core ideas and assets.
We have elements that can be reused across geographies. It’s back to the idea of scaling the science and localizing is the art. Underlying it all, from a technical point of view, are well documented standards and processes.
Q: You are sharply focused on mobile and it is listed as a line item in your budget, which is quite a statement. Could you quantify for me the opportunity in mobile for Coca-Cola?
A: I can certainly share are a couple of data points with you. We serve our products 1.6 billion times a day, which means that 1.6 billion servings of Coca Cola are poured every day. There are five billion mobile subscribers worldwide. Do the math and there is a lot of opportunity to use mobile to reach these consumers. And again, when you think that our core strategy is about enabling desire for our brands, then there is also opportunity to use mobile to reach and retain many of the five billion consumers who have mobile and may not currently drink Coke, for example.
Mobile is a line item in the budget. Mobile is included because we know we need to manage and understand mobile. Most importantly, we can not treat mobile as a standalone activity. We know that mobile works best when incorporated in a larger marketing context. So, to help us understand the optimal mix, we’re keeping track of it along with other line items. I can’t share the precise trajectory, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that mobile is growing.
Download the updated Netsize Guide 2010 to read the rest of this interview.