Coca-Cola today became the first major advertiser to release its Super Bowl ad, launching a "gamified" campaign that invites viewers to choose the ending to its commercial.
The soft drink company released its ad, The Mirage, produced by ad agency Widen+Kennedy that will air on Super Bowl 2013 on Feb. 3, traditionally the biggest television audience of the year.
Starting today, viewers can vote online to choose which of three groups of characters -The Cowboys, Showgirls and Badlanders - will win the iconic beverage in the commercial, thereby determining which ad ending will air on Super Bowl Sunday.
Until the end of the Super Bowl, viewers can also vote to "sabotage" the competing two groups.
Coca-Cola's marketing team said they didn't want to simply produce a sequel to last year's polar bear campaign, which included the bears' live online reactions to the football game, half-time show and commercials.
"Last year's social media playbook was good, but it was limited," said Pio Schunker, senior vice president of Integrated Marketing Communications of Coca-Cola North America.
This year, Coca-Cola's campaign will have a Super Bowl marketing presence all the major social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. Users can not only vote on CokeChase.com, but also tweet their votes with a hashtag.
Larry Woodard, Graham Stanley Advertising's CEO and president, said advertisers are being challenged to meet people "where they are," instead of asking them to log into another online platform.
"The holy grail would be able to meet somebody inside their own user experience," Woodard said.
To incentivize users to stay "engaged" in its marketing campaign, Coca-Cola will offer the first 50,000 users who stay engaged after the game a free Coca-Cola beverage through mycokerewards.com.
Inviting users to continue participating in its post-game marketing was one of Coca-Cola's biggest lessons from last year's campaign, which engaged 9 million people, said Schunker.
"We forgot to thank them for showing up," Schunker said.