SEOUL (AdAge.com) -- Coca-Cola has turned to "mommy bloggers" in South Korea to create word-of-mouth communication.
The company is looking for powerful bloggers who are important local "digital influencers," said Kenth Kaerhoeg, group communications director for Coca-Cola's Pacific Group in Hong Kong.
This year, Coca-Cola began hosting parties in Seoul at hip locations like Lacuisine restaurant for 10 or so young bloggers who have "clout with youngsters and cover the topics that interest them the most. The party was to build a new partnership with the young bloggers," Mr. Kaerhoeg said.
Coke is thinking about replicating the South Korea effort in other Asian markets.
In Seoul, bloggers are introduced to the company and probed about ways Coke can better communicate with local bloggers, especially young mothers, as a way to get Korean families talking about -- and hopefully drinking -- more Coke.
The company started talking to this group back in 2008, and has forged a relationship with eight mommy bloggers tagged as "Coke friends." They have voluntarily become Coke evangelists who connect the company's products with Korean netizens who visit their blogs.
These women "are not simply in charge of a onetime event or project but are vitally important stakeholders," Mr. Kaerhoeg said. "Each blogger has been paid careful attention to, various brand and company information appropriate to each blogger's interest and inclination has been continuously provided, involving them into a variety of marketing and corporate events, therefore enabling them to share unique and exciting Coke experiences."
South Korea is an ideal place to experiment with social media. About 43% of South Korea's population maintains an online profile or blog site, according to Tomi Ahonen and Jim O' Reilly's book Digital Korea, while 9 out of 10 twentysomething Koreans log onto social-networking sites daily.
"Lots of companies are engaged in blog marketing nowadays, and we, as bloggers, do get lots of requests," said Eun Ju Kim, one of Coke's mommy bloggers in Korea. "But Coca-Cola Korea was different. The company really listened to us from the beginning. The company fully allowed me to enjoy the area that I was most interested with and share my experience through my blog. Lots of people ask me how to become a Coke blogger."
Coca-Cola is now looking at ways to expand the dinner parties into larger blogger-outreach programs involving moms and youth bloggers, and not only in Korea.
It has started social-media programs in Asia in markets like China, Singapore, Australia and Japan, particularly to promote Coca-Cola's involvement in the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
In China, for instance, Coke combined the Expo with Expedition 206, a one-year tour by three "happiness ambassadors" to visit 206 countries in 365 days -- every country and territory where Coca-Cola is sold globally. The Shanghai Expo is one of the top three 2010 events on the trio's route, along with the FIFA World Cup going on now in South Africa and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games held earlier in Vancouver.
The group visited Coke's pavilion at Expo last month and carries a miniature version of "Haibao," the mascot of the Shanghai Expo, as they travel the world through a partnership with QQ, China's popular instant-messaging platform, which lets Coke fans in China follow Haibao's adventures.