Coca-Cola Launches Blak 'Extension'
Count me among the ranks of the viral marketers. Several months ago, I read of Coca-Cola's intention to launch a new product that combined Coca-Cola and coffee flavors. Yuk, I thought. Almost everyone I know had the same reaction. Yet somehow I was intrigued.
Coca-Cola Blak launched in the United States on April 3. I just downed my first bottle today, on April 30. Was it "the refreshing taste of an ice-cold Coca-Cola that finishes with a rich essence of coffee," as Katie Bayne, senior vice president, Coca-Cola Brands, Coca-Cola North America, said on a corporate news release?
Well, kind of. It tastes like eating one of those candied espresso beans and taking a drink of Coke. My other test taster, however, had a gag reflex. For $5.99 for a 4 pack of 8 oz. bottles, gagging is not what you want.
As an advertising professor, Blak might just make a great case study. Their rollout embodies many of the principles I am teaching in my principles of strategic communication class. The image above comes from their "viral marketing" attempts. Once you log onto the Coca-Cola Blak Web site, you can send an e-mail to your friends.
Furthermore, the Blak rollout appears to be following another trend: the introduction of new brands with precious little media support. National television support came in the form of a teaser ad (another concept we teach) during the 78th Annual Academy Awards on ABC. The ad plays on the red carpet theme, and it also can be viewed on the Web site.
Furthermore, Coca-Cola is firmly committed to integrated marketing communication, as the news release states, "Additional support for the brand will include a fully integrated program featuring both traditional and non-traditional media, including television, print and outdoor advertising, in-store displays, and targeted sampling programs designed to engage consumers and pique their interest in Coca-Cola Blak."
It will be interesting to see whether this product survives. Coca-Cola Blak will be competing with the likes of Red Bull, Starbucks Double Shot, and myriad other newcomers to the energy drink category. Rather than the taste of the product, it appears that it will be Coca-Cola's ability to generate a buzz that will determine the product's future.