Coke in UK Viral Marketing Pilot to Launch High-Energy ‘Burn’

29 November 2000

Coca-Cola, not usually noted for under-hyping a new brand, is surrounding the UK launch of its latest high energy soft drink, Burn - a direct challenger to market leader Red Bull - with an aura of mannered mystery.

The first new Coke brand to hit Albion since 1993, Burn is currently available only in five unspecified London ‘style bars’ where DJs will plug the drink alongside the latest hits. Coca-Cola’s UK communications director Andrew Coker (sic) insists that he is ignorant of the bars’ location.

"I don't actually know," he claimed. "I didn't want to know, and be in the position where, if the word got out, my colleagues would blame me for letting the cat out of the bag." Coker does admit, however, to having sampled the mystery drink: "I have even tasted it. It is quite fruity in flavour. Rather nice," he confessed under duress.

We are, of course, witnessing Coke’s usual marketing professionalism, harnessing the latest [or most venerable?] promotional technique - viral marketing. Or to simple souls like WAMN’s editor, word of mouth.

Inspired by The Blair Witch Project, the movie whose successful exploitation of internet chat rooms and news groups has become a new media textbook, Coca-Cola has followed suit, hoping that the air of spurious mystery surrounding the launch will trigger a Witch-like explosion of interest.

"What we want is for people to discover Burn, enjoy it, and tell their friends,” says Coker. “We want to sell it in a direct way. What's the point of spending money on a television advertising campaign if you don't have to?"

Next to savour the non-campaign will be clubbers in Manchester and Birmingham, after which Burn may be launched around Europe, and the globe.

News Source: BBC Online Business News (UK)