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Coca-Cola builds SMS focus via NCAA partnership

Text to win with Coke Zero

Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero is running an interactive SMS program that rewards users with prizes when they watch March Madness games.

Coke Zero has teamed up with the National Collegiate Athletic Association on the campaign, which includes Web, in-store, mobile and social media. The mobile components of the Coke Zero campaign include on-air mobile calls to action, an SMS program and an iPad application that users can watch live games on.

“Coke Zero is about enjoying having it all and not missing out on anything – this brand persona fits especially well with how fans are consuming the game,” said William White, group director of sparkling brands at Coca-Cola North America, Atlanta.

“Fans are not just watching the game, they are following the stats, their favorite players, engaging with friends and other fans online through their social graph,” he said.

“Coke Zero is amplifying the March Madness Live experience by working with our partners to capture the conversation and bring it into the game-watching experience via broadband or their iOS or Android devices. This is particularly important for the March Madness tournament because the opening rounds are so intense and fans may be at work or school, and this allows them to keep up on the action so they do not miss out on anything.”

Mobile hoops
The campaign is centered around the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship games that are airing on CBS, TNT, TBS truTV and through digital platforms.

During the games, an SMS call-to-action will be promoted with on-air keywords and alerts with the Coke Zero logo that prompts users to text-in to win prizes. Prizes include trips to the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Final Four games and home entertainment systems.

Coke Zero is also expanding My Coke Rewards program for the campaign, which lets users enter text-in keywords found on Coca-Cola products to earn points.

Users can find codes on March Madness-themed Coke Zero products and cups and text them to the short code 2653.

In addition to texting in codes, users can visit to enter their codes and learn more about the program.

For each entry made, users will be be entered into drawings to win prizes.

In New Orleans at the Final Four game, attendees will be able to unlock specials and behind-the-scenes content via snaptags and mobile bar codes.

Digital streaming
Coke Zero is a sponsor of the NCAA March Madness Live app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. The app is also available for Android devices, although Coke Zero is only sponsoring the iOS version.

The app is available for free download and lets users watch some live games for free. In order to watch all games, users can pay $3.99 to upgrade the app.

Coke Zero’s sponsorship includes banner ads that run along the bottom of the page and direct users to the My Coke Rewards Web site. The Coke Zero logo also appears in the upper left-hand corner of the app.

Additionally, the campaign also includes a large social media push that incorporates Coke Zero-sponsored content into the NCAA Men’s Basketball March Madness Facebook page and lets users share pictures, videos, brackets and aggregated Twitter feeds from the teams.

Coke Zero’s campaign includes SMS as several digital channels that sports fans can use to connect to the basketball games, which is a smart way for the soda giant to keep consumers up to date.

Additionally, as a sponsor of the tournament, Coke Zero is able to place its brand message into digital and on-air content so users will associate the brand with NCAA coverage.

“Sports marketers love SMS because they have learned to monetize it through their sponsors,” said Tim Miller, president of Sumotext, Little Rock, AR.

“Beyond in-venue polls and contests, sponsors are collecting email addresses, linking to social media, getting their apps downloaded and getting public relations for helping to raise money for worthy non-profits,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York