News & Views

Coca-Cola / Mirage

by Contagious Team

Super Bowl stalwart reveals follow up to 2012 Polar Bowl

Coca-Cola has released its 2013 Super Bowl campaign nearly two weeks before the big game, hoping to drive engagement among fans leading up to Sunday 3 February. Titled Mirage, the campaign features three groups - cowboys, badlanders, and showgirls - racing through the desert towards what appears to be a giant bottle of thirst-quenching Coke. It was developed by Wieden+Kennedy, Portland

Super Bowl fans will be able to vote for their favourite team through and social media channels. Additionally, viewers will be able to 'sabotage' rivals, unlocking 15 pre-filmed videos showing teams being held up by traffic lights, photo booths, and even (in a nifty bit of partnership) a Domino's pizza delivery. After the Super Bowl's last whistle, when the votes are tallied, an ad depicting the winning team's successful finish will be shown. 

Mirage represents a diversion from last year's Polar Bowl. That campaign allowed viewers to watch virtual polar bears on a second screen, as they reacted in real-time to in-game events. The Polar Bowl was a resounding success for Coca-Cola, with over 9 million people tuning into the livestream for an average of 28 minutes. As senior vice president of integrated marketing communications Pio Schunker put it, 'That's 56 30-second commercials that people have agreed to sit down and watch, back-to-back.' 

In a presentation in New York on 22 January, Schunker explained why Coke chose not to attempt a repeat of the Polar Bowl. 'We felt that very quickly we would hit the wall of "been there, done that, seen it,"' he said. 'We wanted to avoid the trap door of doing a sequel, where the follow-up is a pale imitation of the original.' 

Schunker also admitted that Coke was poorly prepared to engage with Polar Bowl viewers after the 2012 Super Bowl was over. For that reason, Mirage is specifically constructed to generate far-reaching and long-lasting social media conversation. Viewer votes on Facebook and Twitter will be augmented with hundreds of pieces of easily-sharable digital assets related to the campaign, primed for posting on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram. 

'Last year's effort was much more passive. This year, we up the ante on that by handing the reigns to the consumers,' says Schunker. 

Mirage, according to Coca-Cola, is a launching point for the company's 2013 marketing strategy, which focuses more on the Coke product than recent campaigns. 'We have done a good job establishing brand values through the Open Happiness campaign,' says Schunker. 'This will kick off credentials for the product as the ultimate thirst quencher.' 

Contagious published a case study on Coca-Cola in 2012 which outlined more about the brand's 'liquid + linked' social strategy.

Contagious Insight
Coke is a mainstay among the most-talked-about Super Bowl commercials year after year, and the Mirage campaign is likely to continue that trend. Although 'choose the ending' ads aren't new, Mirage is still likely to find plenty of fans who are eager to engage on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The campaign plays into the increasingly relevant two-screen TV trend Contagious identified in mid-2011, and Coke is no doubt hoping that some of those viewers load on their laptops, phones, and tablets whenever the game gets a little slow. 

Although Coca-Cola continues to refer to this campaign as 'gamifying the big game,' it isn't gamification in the true sense of the word. Instead, the campaign is one centred around user engagement and social media, and Coke hopes that the format will spark conversation for weeks before and after the Super Bowl - not just during the game, like last year's Polar Bowl. 

There are some risks to running the final ad after the Super Bowl has finished, as some viewers might tune out before the game's final play. Coke will no doubt hope for a close game. Last year's Super Bowl recorded the most viewers - a whopping 117.7 million according to Nielsen - late in the last quarter, as the Patriots held on to a 21-17 lead. A blowout would no doubt result in fewer eyeballs. 

Coke's Allison Lewis, senior vice president of marketing in North America, says the company has studied the numbers and feels confident 'there's still a large number of people watching post-game.' Additionally, Coca-Cola is banking on continued engagement after the ads have run. 'We'll be making all the sabotages and all the copy available online to be sure to drive engagement not just during the game, but after as well,' says Lewis.

Coke Chase

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact