Home A Smart Social Media Play From… Coca-Cola?

A Smart Social Media Play From… Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola quietly launched one of their first social media applications last weekend, a bookmarking widget for Facebook called CokeTag. (Coke Singapore also has a Facebook application out, promoting a tie-in with UEFA EURO 2008.) CokeTag is not only a smart play from the company, but also a fairly useful app as far as profile widgets go. The app allows users to create customizable Flash bookmark widgets linking to link collections on any topic they’re passionate about.

Coke is using their social media widget initially to promote their we8 project, which is a “cultural exchange” of top artists and designers from China, paired with Western musicians. we8 is part of Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Coke has been a sponsor of the Olympics since 1928 — the games’ longest running sponsor.

While some of the press pack that was delivered to us along with CokeTag is a little over the top (i.e., “The Coca-Cola Company aligns itself with delivering the promise of a cross-platform Web experience, consistent with Coke’s brand value of bringing people together for social connections across cultures.”), launching a social media application is a smart move. If there’s one thing that Coca-Cola understands, it’s branding — they didn’t become Millward Brown’s #4 brand in the world by accident. And CokeTag is all a about branding.

Though the branding on CokeTag is subtle — “We made a distinct decision not to overly brand this application,” according to Michael Donnelly, Director of Worldwide Interactive Marketing, at Coca-Cola — this is an exercise in smart branding. Coca-Cola has created something that is useful, simple, and easily spread. Even though it has nothing to do with Coke’s core beverage business, all roads lead back to the brand.

CokeTag currently only works on Facebook, but an OpenSocial version is planned, to be followed by standalone versions for bloggers and other web publishers. The beauty of building a social networking application for branding purposes is that if it fails to catch on, you’re very likely only out a minimal sum. There is nothing about CokeTag that suggests that it cost very much to create (in fact, it was built on top of an already existing Flash advertising format from Linkstorms). Coke is also smart to create an widget that users should actually find useful, and not something that feels like advertising.

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