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Brand Strategy Coca-Cola Innovation

Coke innovation platform takes flight with Ava Max & space-inspired Coca-Cola Starlight


By Kenneth Hein, US Editor

February 17, 2022 | 4 min read

The world’s leading beverage company has debuted its new global innovation platform ‘Coca-Cola Creations.’ Today it introduced the first of many new products and collaborations as it looks to bring its ‘Real Magic’ campaign to life in unexpected ways.

Space Coke

Pop star Ava Max sings Starlight’s praises

Strap yourselves in for ‘space Coke.’ Today, the beverage giant unveiled Coca-Cola Starlight, a zero-sugar soda that combines Coke with a taste “reminiscent of stargazing around a campfire, as well as a cooling sensation that evokes the feeling of a cold journey into space.”

Sweet but Psycho singer Ava Max will promote the limited-time-only (LTO) product with an augmented reality (AR) ‘Concert on Coca-Cola.’ It can be accessed by scanning a Coca-Cola Starlight can or bottle, or visiting Partnerships with leading designers including streetwear brand Staple and an array of social filters across Instagram will also support.

Coca-Cola Starlight, and its AR activation, is the first shot over the bow from the new ‘Coca-Cola Creations’ global innovation platform. Its mission is to “take the iconic Coca-Cola trademark and lend it to new expressions, driven by collaboration, creativity and cultural connections,” per the company.

Coca-Cola Creations is integral to Coke’s overarching ‘Real Magic’ campaign. Its first global effort since 2016 has promised “unexpected mash-ups and metaverse opportunities.” Starlight is the first fulfillment of that promise. The company has promised more limited-edition products, innovations and collaborations to come.

“For over a century, Coca-Cola has maintained its iconic status around the world as a symbol of optimism that has refreshed generations. When we launched ‘Real Magic,’ we wanted to connect with and celebrate the experiences that bring joy to young people today, and that has taken us to an exciting new territory,” said Oana Vlad, senior director, global brand strategy, The Coca-Cola Company, in a statement. “Coca-Cola Creations aims to surprise, delight and engage global audiences through magical and unexpected tastes, moments and collaborations – something we know our fans have come to expect from us.”

Coca-Cola Starlight’s limited run will begin February 21 across North America and in select countries.

While creating LTO products is not a new strategy, it is one that has been more typical within PepsiCo’s playbook. “They are an LTO machine at PepsiCo,” says Duane Stafford, editor, Beverage Digest. “When you look at products like MTN Dew Flamin’ Hot [soda] and others, a lot of it is to drive attention to the core brand, create social media interest and tap into new flavors that are aligned with the new things young people are interested in ... Coke’s typically done bigger plays over the years and picked their shots.”

Coke’s shift in strategy is worth taking note of as they look to get more experimental in an effort to recruit new drinkers. “It’s nice to see them let their hair down a bit with brand Coca-Cola,” says Stafford. “They don’t want to be viewed as stodgy. So, they have to take some risks, but at the same time they need to maintain the core equity of the brand. It’s about balancing it correctly. LTOs alone aren’t going to get you where you need to be in terms of growth.”

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Brand Strategy Coca-Cola Innovation

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