Coca-Cola is to announce today its first incursion into internet marketing: a two-year $64 million strategic alliance with America Online.

The deal provides for the development of online and offline marketing programs, and is part of a drive by AOL to associate itself with bluechip ‘old-economy’ companies in a bid to step-up the acquisition of mass-market subscribers. It will also create much-needed internet visibility for Coke and help it become a more effective local marketer. Word from Atlanta is that Coke will pay AOL $24 million for access to its online services, with each company then contributing $20 million in marketing support over the two years. If successful, the partnership may be extended for a third year.

According to Coca-Cola’s chief marketing officer, Stephen Jones, the marketing initiatives will focus on movies, music and sports, and promotions of brands such as AOL's Moviefone and Coke’s sponsorship of the 2000 Olympic Games. In addition the duo will explore ways of reaching the public, such as interactive in-store promotions and “dialoguing” with consumers over the Internet.

Wall Street Journal