Shawn Lim
Apr 29, 2024

Gen AI has created an 'iPhone moment': Coca-Cola's ASEAN marketing chief

Ahead of Campaign360, Coca-Cola's Matthias Blume explains how the brand continues to grow efficiently while maintaining creative excellence, platform relevance, and meaningful consumer engagement.

Gen AI has created an 'iPhone moment': Coca-Cola's ASEAN marketing chief

In the ever-accelerating pace of digital disruption and the increasingly complex media landscape, innovation and agility are critical challenges for large traditional CPG brands like Coca-Cola to maintain and grow brand equity.  

Central to the beverage giant’s approach is a commitment to understanding and engaging with its consumers deeper, while recognising that the essence of connection has evolved in this digital age.  

The brand recently entered into a five-year agreement with Microsoft to integrate generative AI throughout its primary systems. This partnership involves a substantial investment from Coca-Cola, committing $1.1 billion to utilise the Microsoft Cloud and its advanced AI features. This includes tools like Microsoft 365, Power BI, Dynamics 365, Defender, and Fabric to boost efficiency and scalability.

In addition, Coca-Cola plans to implement generative AI digital assistants from Azure OpenAI Service to enhance customer interactions and marketing efforts and streamline supply chain processes. The company will pilot and deploy Copilot via Microsoft 365 to increase workplace productivity. 

Ahead of the upcoming Campaign360 event, Campaign speaks to Matthias Blume, vice president of marketing at Coca-Cola ASEAN and South Pacific, to find out how the brand has significantly shifted its touchpoint strategy and investment in digital media over the last three years in the region. 

Matthias Blume

Consumer-centricity with data-driven personalisation

A year ago, Coca-Cola embarked on a marketing and innovation transformation journey to build globally scaled marketing platforms tailored to local consumers.  

The brand leveraged the Azure OpenAI Service in its marketing, manufacturing, supply chain, and more. It has also migrated all its applications to Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform developed by Microsoft. 

Having more integrated access between company data and consumer insights is now opening up new possibilities through analytics to inform the brand’s storytelling. It also helps to resonate every communication more with its audiences' values and experiences, moving further away from generic messaging.  

Matthias Blume will be speaking at Campaign360 on May 14-15 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Click here for the full agenda and how to attend. 

Each interaction, from social media posts to targeted ads to live experiences, becomes a chance to connect on a deeper level.  

“Our recent campaigns, which use augmented reality (AR), generative artificial intelligence (AI), and interactive digital and physical experiences, are an example of this approach in action,” says Blume. 

“These captivate our audience's imagination and bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds, making the Coca-Cola experience more immersive. Coca-Cola stays relevant and exciting through these innovative engagements, particularly among our younger audiences." 

For example, the Coca-Cola Creations Y3000 drink is billed as the world's first AI-powered beverage co-created with humans and AI. The brand used AI to analyse vast consumer preference data sets and craft a beverage that aims to capture the spirit of Gen Zers. 

Another example is the brand’s most recent Creations drop, the Coca-Cola K-Wave Zero Sugar. The new limited-edition fruity-flavoured drink and AI experience is a more tangible way to celebrates fans’ infinite devotion to K-pop artists that simply using brand ambassadors alone.

"Using AI, alongside other emerging technologies like AR and VR, demonstrates how Coke Creations, as a limited edition drop, has become a prime example of innovation driving relevance," Blume argues.

Noting that AI and ML (machine learning) are not new and have been leveraged in the back end for a while, Blume feels that generative AI has changed the game, opening up a new "'iPhone’ moment', where everyone can use and leverage the technology. Consumers now understand it, with everyday consumers seeing the value the technology brings.” 

The brand has also moved beyond simply collecting data and is more focused on extracting actionable insights. Coca-Cola, like other consumer brands, uses analytics tools to understand consumer purchasing behaviours, track market trends, and analyse social media sentiment.  

Since the APAC region is a melting pot of diverse cultures and preferences, Blume notes a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Coke identifies regional and local nuances by leveraging data from flavour preferences to preferred consumption occasions. This, in turn, has helped Coca-Cola to develop hyper-local campaigns and product innovations that connect with each unique market.

For example, the brand’s data might reveal a country's growing demand for non-caloric products. Empowered with this knowledge, Coca-Cola can plan and introduce low to no sugar variants or explore other drinks that cater to the country’s evolving preferences. 

“We use a variety of powerful tools to help us with data gathering and analytics, from utilising an advanced marketing mix modelling system to understand the efficacy of our campaigns to social listening platforms that feed us with real-time consumer feedback to sophisticated consumer segmentation tools to help us identify and target the right audiences with the right messaging,” says Blume. 

Future-proofing marketing strategies

With a culture that encourages experimentation and rapid learning, Coca-Cola is not afraid to operate more like a startup and try new things, fail fast, then adapt quickly based on market feedback to stay ahead of the curve and capitalise on emerging trends.  

The brand believes that by fostering a culture of innovation and resilience, it can become better equipped to navigate future uncertainties, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and connection. 

Having awarded most of its creative and media duties to WPP in 2021, the brand is serviced by a bespoke team called Open X. 

According to Blume, WPP and Coca-Cola are strengthening Studio X, the execution arm of Open X, to streamline the brand’s agency operations and drive speed to market to foster an even more robust integration between agency partners across the Coca-Cola network.  

He explains as the world continues to evolve, the brand will add new capabilities to ensure it remains at the forefront. 

For example, Coca-Cola recently collaborated with Marshmello on a limited-edition Coke Creation. By scanning a QR code on the can, fans unlocked the ‘Melloverse’, an online hub filled with interactive experiences.  

“Ultimately, we aspire to build future-proof brands. While technology evolves, Coca-Cola's core values—optimism, togetherness, and shared moments—remain consistent.” 

“We ensure that our brand story continues to connect with people on an emotional level. By focusing on our core values, we build a brand that resonates deeply with consumers, even in times of uncertainty.” 

Source:
Campaign Asia

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