From the press release:
"The Coca-Cola Company is redefining the relationship between consumers and their sparkling beverages with the launch of the Sprite Yard, a real-time digital “on-the-go” community that provides social connections and downloadable content via their mobile phone anytime, anywhere. This mobile marketing breakthrough launched in China on June 1, and will go live in the US later this month.
The Sprite Yard creates an entertaining social experience beyond the value of traditional online destinations by providing consumers constant mobile, social and brand connectivity through mobile devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).
Accessing the Sprite Yard is easy and simple. Anyone with a WAP enabled phone and access to a data plan can join the Yard. Beginning June 22, U.S. consumers can text “YARD” to 59666 (“Lymon”) and receive a reply with a WAP link to access the Sprite Yard for the fist time. Clicking the link directs the mobile device to the “Yard” where they are invited to register by selecting a tag name and password. As soon as they are registered, users can opt to create a profile to share information about themselves with their friends in the Yard.
“Sprite is the first beverage brand to enable a mobile experience combining such a rich combination of features and functions,” said Mark Greatrex, Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications and Insights, The Coca-Cola Company. “The Sprite Yard provides an efficient, sustainable and fresh marketing platform that reflects changing consumer demands and significantly personalizes the relationship between consumers and Sprite.”
"Sprite Yard was introduced in China last week, and Coca-Cola plans to extend it globally and perhaps to other soda brands over the next few years. For the time being, Sprite Yard will function only on cellphones — the medium that Sprite’s marketing team said was the most popular with teenagers.
“Being with them on their mobile phones is absolutely essential,” said Mr. Greatrex at a news conference yesterday. Sprite, he said, is “trying to establish an omnipresent, on-the-go, everywhere relationship with teens.”
As more consumers send text messages and surf the Internet from portable devices, media companies and advertisers are starting to create content specifically for mobile viewing. Most consumer brand companies have tested the waters with cellphone advertising that centers on text messaging; in those campaigns, advertisers typically encourage cellphone users to send a text message to a specific number to receive free content or enter a sweepstakes.
Sprite Yard will take cellphone marketing a step further, establishing a permanent mobile site with a variety of features rather than a short campaign, advertising analysts said.
“It is a comprehensive commitment as opposed to the toe-dipping we’ve seen up to date from other marketers,” said Christine Overby, an analyst at Forrester Research. “This is a significant commitment from a mainstream brand to use mobile in their marketing mix.”From Reuters:
"Coke said it worked with the top U.S. wireless providers on the service and is in touch with other social networks such as Facebook about expanding its experience.
One potential issue is how to keep children safe from predatory adults. MySpace has faced lawsuits and negotiated guidelines with legal authorities over protecting its teen members from convicted sex offenders posing as youngsters online.
"That certainly is a priority," said Sprite global brand director Denis Sison when asked how the mobile social network, Sprite Yard, would protect its members.
Sison said the site would be monitored to make sure inappropriate photos and video were not posted, while conversations would also be screened."
From Mobile Insider:
We are testing the edges of brand credibility as marketers try to create user-generated platforms. If Sprite Yard is more about free content distribution than social interaction, then it has a chance of success — but it depends entirely on how much of a media platform it wants to be.
Unless the company really does partner with interesting media figures and assets apart from the Coke brands, then it is just another corporate WAP site giving crap away. But Coke is no MTV. Unless it really is willing and able to offer and promote a wide range of recognizable media, then I don’t see a compelling case for the idea. Trying to create a mobile social universe where users interact with one another on a regular basis seems like the weakest part of this plan. Aligning a corporate manufacturer with personal communications on the most intimate device we have feels like a very hard sell."
From Media Post:
"Coca-Cola saw several specific advantages in "going mobile" with the Sprite Yard community, including the chance to leverage mobile's potential for viral distribution, and fulfillment of Sprite's core consumers' desires for constant connectivity and instant gratification. "It's the perfect match for teens and young adults because we can develop content quickly and keep it fresh," said Shelley de Villiers, Coca-Cola's director of global brand management for Sprite. "But it's designed not to be overbranded. We don't want to alienate our teen advocates."
"The Sprite Yard is not an in and out promotion," Greatrex added. "It's a campaign that we will build and enhance over time. Coca-Cola is pioneering the mobile marketing landscape with Sprite, and ultimately through other efforts with our entire suite of brands."
From the IHT:
"Advertising executives said that Coca-Cola could have a hard time creating a popular site even in the new mobile world. Facebook, for example, will be a competitor with a cellphone version of its site.
"Nobody wants to go hang out with Sprite," said Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms for Organic, a digital advertising agency in the Omnicom Group.
"It takes a lot for a brand to ask that of a customer. You really have to be getting something compelling in return," Stoller said."
"Awareness will be driven not through media buys, but from PIN codes contained in the bottle caps and viral activity. Coke representatives said the company sells 10 billion single-serve bottles globally each year, providing a hefty activation mechanism for its promotional initiatives.
Coca-Cola made a significant investment in building a proprietary infrastructure to run the mobile platform. It plans to add more features as new technologies develop. The community will also benefit from partnerships with carriers, technology providers, and brands like the MBA and McDonalds in China. The mobile foundation could serve to benefit other Coca-Cola brands over time."