Coke lifts off new innovation platform with ‘space-flavored’ Starlight cola

Short dive:

  • Coca-Cola has announced a new Coca-Cola Creations initiative, in which the soft drink marketer will continually present experimental limited-edition flavors and accompanying digital and real-world experiences. It’s part of the Real Magic brand’s global platform, launched by the company last year.
  • The first proposal is Starlight, a wheel with “space taste”, inspired by the revival of interest in space travel. The drink, which has a flavor profile that includes a cooling sensation designed to evoke a cold void exploration, comes in special packaging themed around space aspects such as star trails and colorful nebulae, while retaining Coca-Cola’s signature elements.
  • Scanning QR codes on Starlight cans and bottles opens up the augmented reality (AR) experience when pop singer Ava Max performs one of three songs against the backdrop of the space station: “Sweet But Psycho”, “Kings & Queens” or “Every Time I Cry”. “». Starlight will go to retailers on Feb. 21 and will be available for a limited time, but executives said Coca-Cola will continue to develop products through Creations to position the brand closer to cultural factors such as games, sports and music.

Diving Insight:

Coca-Cola is changing its innovative strategy by introducing Creations and Starlight, a beverage with a limited network that is trying to take advantage of the current hype surrounding space exploration caused by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. The idea of ​​Creations, according to executives live on Thursday, is to turn familiar elements of Coca-Cola through what they called a new form of “brand expression”. This includes a more digital media mix.

Starlight is being promoted through various activations, indicating that Coca-Cola wants to more closely link bets on new products with those appearing on new marketing channels. The phrase “metaworld” originated during a live broadcast that included some questions and answers moderated by cultural reporter Jewel Vicker.

While Coke has previously tested NFT and activation on Dencentraland, the Starlight approach is potentially more accessible to those less familiar with the complexities of web3. The company includes custom AR filters for sharing on social media and Ava Max speeches, which are available via QR codes and a dedicated mobile web center. At the same time, Coke has partnered with the Staple streetwear brand in a capsule collection on an interstellar theme that includes things like hoodies, bombers and shorts. An ad-like experience is also planned in the ad window.

Starlight refers to some Coca-Cola story that could resonate with young consumers who are just discovering their passion to the limit. The beverage vendor was one of the first carbonated beverages to go into space during the Challenger mission in the 80s, while a specially designed dispensary machine appeared alongside the shuttle Endeavor years later (where, according to reports at the time, it encountered some technical failures).

The first release of Creations shows that Coca-Cola is looking for bolder, more conceptual taste profiles to stand out in the category of soft drinks with high competition. Starlight is designed to create a feeling of coolness in the mouth and evoke special feelings around the star compared to imitating traditional flavors such as vanilla or cherry.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola’s main competitor, also tested the water with new flavors, releasing a limited series of vintage soda options last year that relied on its connection to the musical “Grease”. Previously, Coca-Cola was making a concentrated push to rid its portfolio of “zombie brands” such as Zico and Odwalla, so Creations could portend a change in mindset when it comes to launching new products. Last year, Coca-Cola changed the list of its agencies, crowning the WPP as a partner in global network marketing.

Theoretically, the tutorial for future Creations offerings may also look markedly different from Starlight, as the company seeks to reach an audience that is rooted in a variety of interests such as games or sports. Coca-Cola has begun to more consciously lean into these cultural spaces through Real Magic, its first global brand update in five years. The company has yielded several mixed results in terms of consumer acceptance, although the company continues to perform well on the sales front after a sluggish pandemic period. In the fourth quarter, Coca-Cola exceeded analysts’ expectations: net sales rose 10% year-on-year to $ 9.46 billion, although it warned of rising costs.

Starlight should be available for about six months, Coca-Cola executives said Thursday, but future Creations products don’t necessarily meet certain deadlines, suggesting some may be sold in just a few weeks. Starlight is available in North America, Europe and key Asian markets.

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