NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, and Procter & Gamble, the FMCG company, are both turning to consumers in an effort to promote their products, having announced separate competitions to find bloggers who will produce and share information about their brands.

As previously reported, Coke has stated its intention to adopt a "far more aggressive digital presence" in the future, while P&G has also increased its output in this area in the recent past.

In-keeping with this trend, Coca-Cola has now launched a new initiative, Expedition 206, which will see three consumers travel to the 206 countries where its eponymous cola brand is sold, over the course of a year.

They will be required "to seek out what makes people happy and share their happiness and enthusiasm with the rest of the world," the company said in a statement.
Beginning in Madrid and ending at The World of Coca-Cola museum it Atlanta, the beverage maker has adopted this approach as part of its global Open Happiness communications platform.

It has selected nine potential candidates to undertake this trip in 2010, and internet users will be able to vote for their favourites, via a dedicated campaign website, over a three-week period.

The winning participants will visit events including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the World Expo in Shanghai, all of which are sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Adam Brown, director of digital communications and social media at the company, said "this mash-up of social media – online photo galleries, video clips, blogs, microblogs, social networking – combined with an amazing journey, enthusiastic travellers and a theme of happiness is a great way for us to connect with people around the world."

"The global adoption of social media has given us a way to deliver a year-long reality TV series without the TV," he added.

For the last three years, Procter & Gamble has opened fully-staffed bathrooms for consumers in Times Square, New York, over the Christmas period, as part of the promotional activity for Charmin, its toilet paper brand.

This week, it invited entries to a competition aiming to find five "brand ambassadors", who will spend the six weeks to the end of December in and around the Charmin Restrooms.

This group of consumers will "share their daily consumer interactions with the world," receiving a "salary" of $10,000 (€6,676; £6,040) in the process.

Alongside adding content to their own blogs and Charmin's webpages, the campaign will utilise social networks such as Facebook, and feature interviews and "family-friendly" videos directed to various properties across the web.

Jacques Hagopian, brand manager for Charmin, said "we want them to share the experiences they are having in the digital and social media world."

"We wanted to find a way to refresh the program. We know unemployment is pretty high right now, so we've created a seasonal employment opportunity that is amongst the highest paid in North America."

Among the targets for the initiative are to drive up visitor numbers to the Charmin Restrooms above the average total of around 500,000 which has been recorded in previous years.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commissionupdated its rules regarding bloggers promoting products on the web, requiring they fully disclose any financial or other reward they have received from the owner of the brand in

Data sourced from PR Week, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola; additional content by Warc staff