Analysis: Coke’s Social Engagement Effort Delivers Mixed Reviews


The overwhelming online response to Coke's "Chase" is explored through this third installment in Jason Chong's 4-part post-Super Bowl analysis series. Covering the beverage industry for BevWire and Canadian Grocer, he offers insight into the the yearly Super Bowl Cola War between the Big 2 brands.

The "Coke Chase" was actually a spot called "Mirage"

The "Coke Chase" was actually a spot called "Mirage"
(Source: YouTube)

The general prognosis is that this year's Coke Chase campaign was more successful than last year's talking bears for the Polar Bowl. Coca-Cola had released the original Coke Chase spot online before the Super Bowl, and also provided strong media support to hype it up. There was even a spoof by Pepsi Next of the Coke Chase characters fighting to get a Pepsi Next rather than settle for a Coke. All this led to a high level of buzz for the campaign, so much that it crashed the website as it experienced an unprecedented surge of site traffic.

The Showgirls were the winning faction

The Showgirls were the winning faction
(Source: YouTube)

AdAge's Natalie Zmuda has a piece outlining how Coca-Cola decided what to do in real time during the Super Bowl to reconcile this problem. The ultimate goal was to have viewers vote for one of the three groups (badlanders, cowboys or showgirls) to win the race and the beverage at the end. Coca-Cola would tabulate these results during the game and show the winning group getting the Coke following the game.

Coke encouraged audience voting to determine winner

Coke encouraged audience voting to determine winner
(Source: CokeChase.com)

It was another effort by Coca-Cola to engage with viewers and communicate via the "second screen", where users watching the television also simultaneously interact with the advertising company or TV program through their mobile and computer screens. Interact they did, to the tune of 1.3 million page views and over 900,000 votes for the different competing groups. Despite these strong numbers, could this be deemed strong engagement by Coca-Cola with the audience this year? Did most people stay to watch the Coca-Cola spot after the Super Bowl to see who won? Were the results what Coca-Cola wanted?

See the original video:

My opinion is that the engagement exceeded expectations, and would have been even better had the server crash not occurred. The amount of votes (900,000) certainly seems low considering the amount of sabotages (7.8 million), video views (3.8 million) and site visitors (1.3 million). Everything was in the millions and the total votes were only 900,000? I would expect voting to equal the amount of site visitors, or why else would you go to the website anyway? If you were intrigued enough to visit the site, surely you would be engaged enough to vote.

The Cowboys will have to settle for RC Cola

The Cowboys will have to settle for RC Cola
(Source: YouTube)

However, this represents an enviable problem for Coca-Cola. Interested viewers will keep on trying to log onto the site to vote, and this can be translated to a longer engagement period than simply logging on and voting in the first place. The winning video generated about 50,000 views online, but there's no definite way to quantify how many people saw it live even with the close game.

Here's the winning video:

Since most people tune out after the game is decided, running a commercial following the game seems less likely to maintain their engagement. However, voting and page views mattered more than the group wining the Coke at the end. The end goal was to drive social engagement and not to have one specific group win over another group. The page view metric would be equivalent to that of over one million people viewing the original site, and clicking through another 6 commercials to sabotage the two other competing groups. The winning video did not matter and the Twitter image below proves it: only 77 retweets and 57 favorites.

Official Coke tweet sharing the final result

Official Coke tweet sharing the final result
(Source: Twitter.com)

All in all, not too shabby for a company that was not the official sponsor of the event. Think of how Pepsi always tries to insert itself into a Coca-Cola sponsored event (i.e. the Olympics) and there never being too much heard about them, at least not to the same extent. Now think of how this was a Pepsi-sponsored event (Pepsi is the official soft drink of the NFL) and we often heard of Coca-Cola. And parallel this with how the neon green Nike running shoes stole the spotlight during the 2012 London Olympics despite it being an Adidas-sponsored event.

There will be many experts saying that Coca-Cola would have won this year's cola war battle had it executed better. This is likely true and will serve as a lesson for another broad scale event. But being able to drive continuous engagement during a game, and getting over one million of these viewers to visit, vote, and click over six times to sabotage other competing groups is no small feat. That itself already represents a win for Coca-Cola.

Super Bowl 2013 Analysis Series:
Part 1Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4

Comments

  1. When did the server crash? I tried voting right after I saw the commercial, and the didn't load. But then there was the blackout, and I was able to get through. That blackout really helped Coke's ad.

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