Coke Creates Podcast With iHeartMedia to Target Teens

Beverage Giant Is First Partner of iHeart's Branded Content Unit

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'First Taste Fridays' is the first result of iHeartMedia's new branded content division.
'First Taste Fridays' is the first result of iHeartMedia's new branded content division.

Coca-Cola is getting into the podcast game through a branded content deal with iHeartMedia.

The beverage giant has worked with iHeartMedia many times in the past, but is the first marketer to tap its new branded content division. The result is a podcast targeted at teens, "iHeartRadio First Taste Fridays With Coca-Cola," which pitches itself as a source for "first tastes of the hottest new music and behind the scenes artist interviews."

The show is iHeartMedia's first foray into podcasting, a medium that's received new interest from marketers following the rabid success of "Serial."

"We have been talking to clients about the power of sound and a lot of clients haven't been using sound or radio as storytelling platforms," said Gayle Troberman, exec VP and CMO at iHeartMedia, which was known as Clear Channel until last year.

The challenge with much of the branded content out there is giving marketers large enough reach, Ms. Troberman said.

While "First Taste Fridays" will reach listeners who find it on iHeartRadio's website and app, pieces of the content will also air across iHeartMedia's terrestrial radio stations.

"Storytelling is what a brand like Coca-Cola is all about," said Joe Belliotti, head of global music marketing, Coca-Cola. "We have done so much storytelling across print, TV, digital and social, now we are trying to bring that to radio."

iHeartMedia announced its branded content division, Soundboard, earlier this year. While branded content has been the buzzword for digital publishers fighting banner blindness and other maladies, it's a newer emphasis in audio.

"First Taste Fridays" debuted earlier this month, with the second episode premiering on Friday. The first episode featured a conversation between teens and the artist Maxwell, who is the DJ on the show, and included exclusive interviews, world premieres of new tracks and surprise artist drop-ins.

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