Coca-Cola Mobile Strategy:
‘Phone In One Hand, Coke In The Other’
by Giselle Abramovich
Senior & Strategic Editor
As he has for the past three years, Tom Daly, group director for global connections at Coca-Cola, opened Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014 conference in New York City this morning. He provided attendees with an insightful overview of whether Coke achieved the mobile goals it had laid out for 2013 and where it intends to head in the year ahead.
Strategically, Daly said, the role of mobile at Coca-Cola remains the same: to use a phone in one hand to put a Coke in the other. “It’s about enabling desire,” Daly said.
One of the company’s first goals for 2013 was to begin thinking about the mobile opportunity across the entire business. According to Daly, mobile doesn’t just equal marketing innovation in the enterprise. To that end, the company integrated mobile capabilities across the whole organization. Today, Coca-Cola has a mobile team who work shoulder-to-shoulder with the desktop guys. Daly pointed to the importance of discussing the role of mobile for the company with the entire organization.
Coca-Cola is also using mobile beyond its consumer-facing programs and initiatives. According to Daly, mobile technology is helping Coke with operations, merchandising, bottling, and other pragmatic operational functions that drive the business.
In addition, Daly said, Coca-Cola released digital design guidelines, which include mobile design best practices specific to the beverage maker.
“So it’s no longer about a chance meeting with me,” Daly joked. “Now the 5,000 marketers and the limitless agencies Coke uses have documentation—one version of the truth—that enable anyone to keep to the standards of Coca-Cola. That sends a signal that mobile is a big deal and operationalized at the organization.”
Another 2013 goal for Coca-Cola was to get into mobile transactions. It began working closely with Isis to introduce mobile-wallet-enabled vending machines, and will continue this focus in 2014. Daly encouraged attendees to download the Isis wallet to their devices to get to know how it works and also think about its possibilities for other brands.
“2013 was the year where we connected what’s going on with mobile, desktop, and the real world,” Daly said. “Keep it simple and as close to what the business already knows as possible. Do things in a way where everyone gets it.”
Also key for Coca-Cola was a change in thinking to mobile first. “Don’t talk about getting the Web onto a mobile device,” Daly said. “My views on responsive design are known.”
Progress in this regard included better connecting with moms, as well as the launch of the Coke Play gamified loyalty program, which is targeted at Korean teens. “This is truly mobile-first,” Daly said. “It was a really tactical. We really thought through teen consumer behavior. And it resulted in the creation of an experience to meet their needs and solve their problems.”
Going forward, Daly said Coca-Cola will be spending a lot of time—and money—on mobile video. He said the company experienced exponential growth in mobile video views, and time spent with Coke-branded mobile videos trumped desktop view time in 2013.
“Mobile video is an explosive trend, and we are struggling to keep up,” Daly said. “Some of that is operational, some is just struggling to create that much content.”
In addition, incorporating augmented reality is on the horizon, said Daly, who is also eyeing wearables. The company has dabbed in them a little this year with the Special Edition Red Shine.
Coke also is testing Apple’s iBeacon positioning system for use during the 2104 World Cup. According to Daly, harnessing and channeling new technologies is a positive challenge.
“For us, 2014 will mark an irrevocable integration of mobile into our business,” Daly said. “Take action now. Don’t wait. We are not waiting. We’ve already developed a mobile accelerator program to help us look for the next big thing. There’s nothing that we have in the pipeline that doesn’t have a mobile perspective.”