NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, has successfully activated various experimental partnerships at speed by working directly with platform owners, rather than solely relying on agencies in this area.

Bachir Zeroual, Global Director/Marketing Ventures at The Coca-Cola Co., spearheads many of its "CokeForward" initiatives, where the firm conducts low-cost, exploratory programs with promising, but previously untested, partners.

"With CokeForward, we've done about eight pilots in the last six months. And the only way to do it is to go straight to the platform ... [and] create the content with them," he said at a recent conference. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: Coke updates the Super Bowl advertising playbook.)

One example involved social-media site Reddit. For this effort, Coke built buzz for its superhero-themed TV spot to be shown during Super Bowl 50 by asking users which of these characters they would like to appear in an ad together.

In finding the right channel to meet its needs around the NFL season-closer, Coke allied with Partnered, a company that specialises in connecting businesses possessing specific requirements with partners that can help tackle them.

After identifying Reddit through this process, it took less than a week to move from initial conversations to having material ready to go online.

"This literally happened in six days," explained Zeroual. "It goes with the need for speed, but also precision marketing at scale."

Moving at this kind of rapidity is often challenging under existing industry structures, which are typically constructed with different objectives in mind.

"We couldn't have done a six-day program or deal if we had too many intermediaries ...[and] if we didn't accept a loss of control and trust the Reddit team to tell us where we should go, what should be the message, and how to approach it," said Zeroual.

"The traditional way is to have one, two or three agencies in between, and that's what actually takes the time. And no offence to any digital agencies or creative agencies. In this case, it makes sense to trust the people who own that platform.

"We, as brands, need to accept a loss of control of our brands to match ... the native behaviour on those platforms, and let the platform owners tell us what to do. There's a little bit of risk, but that's what a pilot is about."

Data sourced from Warc