Launching A Super Campaign For A Certain Bowl Game

January 30, 2012

Last week, Alex and I had the pleasure – and challenge – of traveling to New York City for the press launch of Coca-Cola’s ad and digital campaign surrounding next week’s big game. (Note: I’m not calling it the Super You-know-what, since neither Coke nor Fast Horse is a sponsor.)

Next week, Coke is capitalizing on the growing trend of second-screen media consumption with a campaign centered around the biggest media event of the year. The brand’s iconic polar bears are going digital at, and fans who log on can check them out as they watch the game.

As the contest unfolds, the bears will react in real time. One bear is wearing a red and white scarf (New York’s less commonly considered colors); the other sports a scarf in silver and blue (New England).  So when the New York quarterback throws a pick six, the New England bear might jump off his “snowfa,” pump his fists and do a dance while the New York supporter sulks and pouts. The online experience will even include some visitors to the cave (other bears and a penguin on holiday from the Antarctic).

You might ask, “can I really watch bears for four hours?” And the answer probably is “no.” But that’s not the point. The actual goal is to engage people on a deeper level than is typically achieved through traditional advertising alone. So when you see the Coke spots featuring (what else?) the polar bears in the first and second quarters, you’ll be invited to join them in their arctic ice cave through a tag at the end of the spot. It’s an engagement strategy that hasn’t before been seen at such an integrated level during the biggest sporting event of the year.

The ads are really quite good – beautiful animation and a great brand message in the spirit of Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign. The spot running in the first quarter (“Superstition”) is unique because it’s designed to reflect the status of the game. So if New England is behind when the spot airs, the bear in silver and blue will be seen crossing his fingers, toes, arms, etc. It’s real-time ad selection based on the score, a turnover or another game-altering event.

Screen still from "Superstition" from Coca-Cola and Wieden + Kennedy

What I find fascinating is the way Coke will synch the bears online with the bears on TV. Just before “Catch” appears on NBC (second quarter), you’ll see one of the bears leave the ice cave on the website. It’s supposed to be seamless, and will be interesting to watch on game night. You can check out “Catch” below, and I encourage you to log on to to RSVP and “attend” the festivities on Feb. 5.

Click to view “Catch”

The Thursday press launch I mentioned at the top of this post was a big success. USA Today, The New York Times, Good Morning America, Fast, The Globe and Mail, Ad Age, Sports Business Daily, and Perez Hilton have covered it so far, with Today, the AP, Washington Post, Fortune and many others still to come.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on the campaign – before and after the big game.