Coca-Cola Freestyle combines content and creativity with “Make Your Mix” contest

Engaging your consumer fanbase can be a big PR win for an organization of any size. Here’s how communicators can replicate Coca-Cola’s ambitious project.

Coca-Cola values user-generated content so much, it is offering a $10,000 prize to drum up submissions.

Coca-Cola Freestyle recently announced the “Make Your Mix Contest,” which is the first of its kind to highlight its more than 200 flavors in its Freestyle soda machines across the United States.

The competition also encourages consumers to interact with Coke products and its social media efforts.

CNBC reported:

If you’re determined to score the $10,000 grand prize, you’ll first need to find one of Coke’s 50,000 touchscreen Freestyle machines nationwide that dispense a wide variety of the company’s fountain drink brands. There’s a helpful Freestyle machine locator where you can enter your address or zip code to find the one nearest you.

Once you find a machine, start mixing. For the contest, you’ll need to mix together two to three drink choices offered by the Freestyle machines to create your perfect flavor combination.

… Once you’ve crafted the perfect mix, submit the recipe on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MakeYourMixContest. Entries must contain a photo and a description of the components of your recipe, according to the official rules. But don’t worry, you don’t need to get technical and include exact amounts such as percentages and ounces.

The contest closes on June 30. Until then, each person over the age of 13 can enter up to 10 times. Coke will announce five finalists between July 15 and Aug. 25. From Aug. 26 to Nov. 10, consumers in the United States can test the recipes in Freestyle machines and vote for their favorite mixes.

Though there will only be one winner (announced on Nov. 11), finalists will each receive $100.

A refreshing marketing mix

Sarah Greenberg Sachs, director of marketing for Coca-Cola Freestyle, says that the beverage giant’s fans served as both the inspiration and motivation for the competition.

“Coca-Cola Freestyle consumers have been mixing and loving their unique creations for years,” Greenberg Sachs says. “Now, we want to celebrate their creativity and individuality with a chance to win a little something just for continuing to be themselves.”

Though the marketing move has already garnered many headlines, Coca-Cola has kept its consumers in mind with a contest that encourages an already creative crowd that enjoys sharing on social media.

“Coca-Cola Freestyle consumers are incredibly passionate and engaging,” Greenberg Sachs says. “We have found that they love talking about their favorite Coca-Cola Freestyle mixes and mixing behavior in general.”

Here’s a sampling of the recipes people already shared under the contest hashtag:

Coke is compiling consumers’ social media images in a #MakeYourMixContest Gallery on its contest page, too.

However, Greenberg Sachs isn’t leaving it up to consumers to generate all the buzz.

Along with sharing reminders of the contest across social media platforms such as Twitter, the contest is supported by a variety of traditional and digital marketing tactics.

“The Make Your Mix contest is the first of its kind for us and it’s a top priority for the year,” Greenberg Sachs says. “We are supporting it with robust marketing and PR efforts that include radio buys in some of the top markets in the country, national and local media relations, video creative, Twitter ads and influencer partnerships.”

A few examples of Coke’s partnerships showcase conversational language and eye-catching images to further boost consumers’ excitement to enter:

Taking a page from Coca-Cola Freestyle’s playbook

It makes sense for a contest offering a $10,000 prize backed by a trusted beverage brand to make headlines and generate conversation across social media platforms. However, you don’t need to have Coke’s budget to run a successful contest of your own.

Rather, PR and marketing pros should put audiences first, not your branded messages. Also, don’t forget to listen to what your consumers and other stakeholders want.

Greenberg Sachs says:

Ensure that the contest is something that benefits the consumer and is driven by consumer insights. If it’s a contest that is self-serving it will not be successful. Beyond that, make it fun and support it with a variety of marketing and PR tactics.

A robust PR and marketing strategy should not only support your contest, but it should also tie it to your overall business goals and brand voice. Ensure that the contest, your messages and the actions you’re requesting from your audiences fit your organization and feel natural.

“Be authentic and stay true to who you are as a brand,” she says.

For Coke, that translates into consumers snapping selfies of them sipping their beverage concoctions and giving the beverage giant many crowdsourced images to share. The highly visual effort matches with Coca-Cola Journey, the beverage company’s newsroom and effort to cut down on the traditional press release.

It also highlights the power of encouraging audiences to share their stories along with their creations—something from which organizations of all sizes and industries can benefit.

What do you think of the campaign, PR Daily readers?

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