Coke and Unilever drop campaign sites in favour of social media

Coca-Cola and Unilever are shifting their digital focus away from traditional campaign sites and towards community platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube, as social media begins to dictate their marketing activity in 2010.

The FMCG giants are moving away from sites created on a campaign-by-campaign basis in favour of investment in existing communities. While both companies will continue to create campaign sites for certain brands in the immediate future, they have said the long-term future lies with social media on platforms populated by their target consumers.

Coca-Cola will position its official Facebook and YouTube pages as the lead online channels for upcoming international activity for its Coke Zero and Fanta brands, new media age understands. Prinz Pinakatt, the Coca-Cola Company’s interactive marketing manager for Europe, said, “In some cases some of our campaigns won’t need a coke.com-hosted site. In most cases these will still exist as it’s the most obvious destination for a consumer, but it might only be a page linking to YouTube encouraging people to join the community there. “We would like to place our activities and brands where people are, rather than dragging them to our platform,” Pinakatt added.

Unilever is also abandoning campaign sites in favour of long-term community engagement platforms. Cheryl Calverley, Unilever UK’s senior global manager for Axe Skin, said, “You’ll see fewer brands creating a site for one campaign and then throwing it away. Certainly we won’t do that at Unilever any more. “It’s natural online to go to the place where people are already consuming media,” she added. “It’s less effort to ask people to leave an environment they’re already in.”

The shift has caused some digital media specialists to question the long-term future of campaign sites. Jo Lyall, head of invention and digital at Mindshare, said, “The challenge is understanding what a campaign site is now and how you get everyone into the mindset of creating a continuous stream of content.”

Julie Jeancolas, digital board director at media agency Carat, said, “It’s not always cost effective to produce a site every time you launch a campaign. What we tell clients is to create something ongoing that has scope for community.” Unilever’s Calverley said the shift in focus won’t mean less work for creative agencies, more that their output will evolve. “The digital agencies that have a proper planning arm and think very seriously about the consumer’s journey through the digital space will be those that will benefit,” she said. “The battle is now to understand how to continue engagement with a consumer outside of a campaign site I’ve driven them too. It’s a much more complicated planning challenge.”

[Blog originally posted at: New Media Age January 13 2010 by Will Cooper]

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