Super Bowl Sunday was filled with ups and downs for Coca-Cola and its agencies -- even before kick off.
The team kicked into high gear with a morning conference call as soon as Pepsi Next's spoof of its Super Bowl ad "Mirage" went live on Funny or Die at 9 a.m. "We knew we had to respond, but we had to keep it lighthearted," said Pio Schunker, senior VP-integrated marketing at Coca-Cola North America. "We wanted to keep it in the vein of imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
By 3 p.m. Coca-Cola had a response -- a video accompanied by tweets, animated GIFs and Facebook posts in which the Kalaharian, the guy in "Mirage" with the camel, thanks "Coke's greatest fan" for "thinking of our little film so intently in the recent week" and noting that "sequels never surpass the real thing." The voiceover was done by a friend of a Wieden & Kennedy employee.
"Luckily we have three of our copywriters here with us, a designer here with us and a team in Portland that can jump into action," said Jeff Gillett, creative director at Wieden & Kennedy. "We looked through all the assets we had available from the shoot. And some we altered slightly. We came out with a bunch of content that we came up with really quickly."
Once Coca-Cola had its reaction to Pepsi Next, it was time to turn its attention back to the game. Nearly 40 execs from Coca-Cola, Wieden, Starcom MediaVest Group and PR shop Allidura gathered at the 360i offices in downtown Manhattan to manage the brand's second screen experience. Another 20 people worked remotely in collaboration with the team, while Katie Bayne, president-North America brands, and Allison Lewis, senior VP-marketing Coca-Cola North America, were in New Orleans at the game.
The company had released "Mirage" online two weeks earlier, setting up a desert race among showgirls, cowboys and badlanders all chasing a bottle of Coke. Consumers were asked to vote for a team and "sabotage" its competitors, which would determine which follow-up commercial Coke would run right after the Super Bowl concluded.