NEW YORK As it planned for its sponsorship of the upcoming Beijing Olympics, Coca-Cola made a significant discovery: When the brand was first introduced in China, its brand name in the Mandarin dialect was translated as "Delicious happiness."
The soft-drink giant tries to capitalize on that history -- and the phrase -- in a digital program, "Design the World a Coke," that focuses mainly on the social-networking space.
A social-media focus was important because, "We know the world is becoming smaller around teens and young adults in the way that they interact with people and form social groups to chat [with] and have fun," said Kevin Tressler, director of Coke's worldwide sports and entertainment marketing.
The Olympic Games have long been a brand-building platform for the Atlanta-based company, stretching back to the 1928 Amsterdam Games.
Although Coke wouldn't provide spending figures, Tressler called the company's overall commitment to the Beijing Games the "biggest" ever for Coke, encompassing efforts in virtually all measured media and communications spheres.
Digital is a core component of that larger strategy -- and social networking by its very nature helps Coke connect with the "unity" theme of the Games and reinforce its positive message of happiness and refreshment.
"Design the World a Coke," which launched a month ago and runs through September, invites consumers to glam up virtual Coke bottles, working by themselves or co-creating designs with friends. Consumers can build their own bottle artwork galleries; showcase their designs inside a larger Coke