Database Beverages: Coca-Cola gets hip to the Net

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In the online world, a slogan like "The Pause that Refreshes" would proably draw jeers from the masses looking for faster download times.

But Coca-Cola Co. has long ago moved beyond that tag line and seems to have also woken up to the Internet during 2001. The company, which has often been quieter than rival PepsiCo, now takes the dominant position in online ads no matter how one looks at the data. The company bought more than 164 million impressions online in May according to Jupiter Media Metrix data, roughly four times the No. 2 beverage advertiser online, which was Anheuser-Busch. That company racked up a total of 40 million impressions for all Coke brands. By comparison, last year at this time, Jupiter Media Metrix's AdRelevance recorded slightly less than 500,000 impressions. Although last year's data only tracked banner ads, the growth in the company's online spending is still mammoth.

A brand-by-brand comparison is even more illuminating. The top beverage advertiser online overall is Coca-Cola's Dasani water brand, which recently launched a campaign of Unicast's streaming media superstitials to hit the brand's female target. In fact, Coca-Cola, which didn't respond to a request for comment about its Internet strategy, seems to be primarily concerned with reaching women rather than men online. The company bought 14.7 million impressions in May to promote Diet Coke, ranking it No.3 among all beverage advertisers. Among the recent places where it was featured was on a branded media player at Viacom's VH1.com.

But it's been an online coming out party for the flagship Coke Classic brand too. The company launched a superstitial in conjunction with its "Life Tastes Good" effort to help reinforce the brand positioning. Viewers could choose to download a group of characters from the ad who can "live" on the desktop as they go about their business, which includes everything from washing a dog to riding a skateboard.

It's a far cry from the brand's early Norman Rockwell imagery.

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