Coca-Cola Wants to Use AI Bots to Create Its Ads

Algorithms can already pick music and write copy

AI is poised to shake up ad creative.
Sources: Coca Cola

BARCELONA, SPAIN—Coca-Cola is one of the most beloved brands in the world and is known for creating some of the best work in the advertising industry. But can an AI bot replace a creative? Mariano Bosaz, the brand’s global senior digital director, wants to find out.

Speaking to Adweek at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Bosaz said that he’s partly in Barcelona this week to get a better feel for how brands can use artificial intelligence because he’s interested in experimenting with bots that crank out ads.

“Content creation is something that we have been doing for a very long time—we brief creative agencies and then they come up with stories that they audio visualize and then we have 30 seconds or maybe longer,” Bosaz said. “In content, what I want to start experimenting with is automated narratives.”

As part of a recent restructuring to make Coke a digital business, the brand hired its first chief digital marketing officer, David Godsman. That digital transformation includes four focus areas: Customer and consumer experience, operations, new businesses and culture. Within the customer and consumer bucket, Coke is interested in using artificial intelligence to improve content, media and commerce—particularly when it makes the creative process more effective.

"If you try to implement a technology that is too old, obviously it’s obsolete but if you’re trying to implement technology too early, you’re going to have a problem with scale."
Mariano Bosaz, global senior digital director, Coca-Cola

In theory, Bosaz thinks AI could be used by his team for everything from creating music for ads, writing scripts, posting a spot on social media and buying media. “That’s a long-term vision,” he said. “I don’t know if we can do it 100 percent with robots yet—maybe one day—but bots is the first expression of where that is going.”

Bosaz isn’t alone in envisioning human-less creative. AI is already being used to create commercial music and jingles and publishers like the AP are experimenting with using robots to write copy.

He noted that while bots and data may not be able to write an entire script, they are capable of putting together the first 5 seconds of a commercial or the end of a spot because “you always have the same closing” in Coke ads, where an image of the brand’s logo flashes across the screen with a tagline.

In terms of Coca-Cola’s interest in AI for media buying, Bosaz said that Coke already buys ads programmatically but that it’s “far from” putting more than half of its media budget into programmatic.

Coca-Cola is also looking for ways to use programmatic technology to fulfill ecommerce sales through tactics like subscriptions, though Bosaz didn’t say exactly what that may entail.

Right now, Coke sells though third-party retailers like Amazon and Tesco, vending machines and a small portion of sales come from direct-to-consumer programs like Share a Coke.

In theory, Bosaz thinks AI could be used by his team for everything from creating music for ads, writing scripts, posting a spot on social media and buying media.

Souped-up vending machines are particularly intriguing in countries like Japan, where mobile adoption and vending machine sales are high. Coke has a Japanese app called Coke On that lets consumers pay for drinks. “Once you have that, then you can use beacons so that you know when people are passing by the machines and you can understand habit of consumption, location and time,” Bosaz said.

At the same time, Bosaz said marketers need to keep in mind privacy concerns with the Internet of Things and need to “find the right balance of using consumer data to provide better services that they appreciate without crossing the line.”

That includes devices like Amazon Echo and also includes Coke’s own packaging, bottles and trucks. For example, the brand is testing beacons in Belgium in retail stores that pull in live data as shoppers move around the store.

“You can see that [in] real-time and then you have historical data that [helps] you predict behavior,” Bosaz said.

At Mobile World Congress, Bosaz said that he’s looking for the next breakout technology that’s also big enough to work for a massive brand like Coke.

“Here, I try to understand timing,” he said. “You need to have the right timing. If you try to implement a technology that is too old, obviously it’s obsolete but if you’re trying to implement technology too early, you’re going to have a problem with scale.”