Coca-Cola expands partnership with American Dream
This weekend, the American Dream Mall became one of the first places on the planet where you can enjoy Coca-Cola Starlight, a limited-edition, red-tinted version of Coke that Coca-Cola says is ” space flavor” with a taste that is out of this world and a “chilling sensation that evokes the feeling of cold space travel”.
The launch event at the mall in East Rutherford, NJ was the result of a partnership formed three years ago by Coca-Cola and American Dream. It was announced in the summer of 2019, as the New Jersey mega-mall was preparing to open for the first time.
The 10-year deal made Coca-Cola the official soft drink supplier for the three-million-square-foot entertainment and shopping complex, but it also envisioned a broader role for the beverage brand, one that has been largely postponed until now.
Now, with pandemic concerns easing (at least for now) and the return of crowds to malls, companies like Coca-Cola are looking to malls as places to hold events that can attract social media posts and online consumer attention.
On Friday, Coca-Cola opened an event space at American Dream called Coca-Cola Social Bubble. The small lounge has a drinks bar where free samples of new products such as Starlight can be offered, and an adjoining podcasting studio.
Coca-Cola executives said the company’s goal was to create a space that would transform social interactions and brand connections.
Coca-Cola and other consumer product companies. like many retailers, are trying to find the perfect mix of physical and digital experiences to appeal to young consumers. The Social Bubble space shows that Coca-Cola is betting that in-person experiences remain important to its marketing strategy.
Starlight is the first launch of Coca-Cola’s new innovation platform, Coca-Cola Creations. The new division has been tasked with creating limited-edition releases that will be released alongside physical and digital experiences.
For Starlight, digital experiences include a virtual concert by pop star Ava Max that viewers can access by scanning the QR code on their Starlight can or bottle, and a Starlight Eyes filter for Instagram photos.
Coca-Cola is also investing in physique, with a Starlight-themed clothing collaboration with fashion brand Staple.
Coca-Cola Starlight was scheduled to hit store shelves on February 21, three days after the launch event at American Dream. A number of stores apparently jumped on the weapon and started selling it early, so video reactions to the drink appeared on TikTok as the first official samples were handed out to American Dream.
American Dream representatives said the podcast studio in the Coca-Cola social bubble – named The Pod – will allow the mall to work with Coca-Cola to host events featuring famous podcasters and social influencers.
For Coca-Cola and American Dream, perhaps the main benefit of this partnership is less about selling sodas or attracting customers to the mall, than about how many views they can attract on social media, as a means of promote the mall and the Coca-Cola brand.