Coca-Cola is gearing up for its largest social media project ever, one that will test its own internal flexibility and force a number of its global markets into the digital and social media space.
Expedition 206, as it will be called, will send three 20-somethings to 206 countries and territories where Coca-Cola is sold. The trio set off on their 275,000 mile tour from Madrid on 1st January 2010, stocked with laptops, video cameras, smartphones and other gadgetry, in order to document their search for happiness to the masses.
Their journey will be tracked online via www.expedition206.com as well as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter. Fans following the trio will be able to weigh in on what the trio should do and who they should see at each destination.
The company will track media impressions, Facebook and Twitter followers, as well as page views, said Clyde Tuggle, Senior vice president global public affairs and communications, to determine how the program is resonating externally. Already the program has had its internal successes, namely triggering collaboration between the communications, public relations and marketing teams. The idea for the program was born in the communications and public relations department and the marketing team then got involved.
"The challenge that we put to the communications team was to think about the social and digital media space as a new venue for driving good public relations for the company," Mr Tuggle said. "The team, which has typically worked in the space of print media and broadcast media was suddenly challenged to go into this new media space and come up with an idea to expand our brand."
So far, the company has been keeping other brands out of the mix, choosing not to partner with an airline or hotel chain. Mr Tuggle compared the involvement of additional brands as akin to a Christmas tree with too many ornaments.
The success of the program isn't being left completely up to chance however, with Coke choosing three ambassadors who are already social media connoisseurs with fan bases. Coca-Cola reached out to the likes of Lonely Planet as well as its own agencies, including Ignition asking for recommendations. From there it received about 60 candidates who were then narrowed down to 18 individuals who were then interviewed. Nine groups, three groups of three, were ultimately tasked with promoting themselves to consumers, who determined the winners in an online vote.
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