Generative AI is still uncharted territory, but Coca-Cola dipped its toes in the water over the summer with the launch of the Coke AI Studio, an extension of its Coke Studio global music platform. The new AI-powered festival experience transforms music fans into pop stars and hit shows like Gov Ball, Lollapalooza, Osheaga and the brand’s proprietary Sips & Sounds festival over the summer. The Coke AI Studio will be activated through the fall, giving participants a chance to create their own shareable, 35-second music video in a matter of minutes.
How it works: As individuals or groups, attendees can stop by a two-level Coke Studio festival footprint to sign up, then answer simple questions about their preferences to inspire the AI’s generation of their unique “Real Stars” identity, including a band or artist name, first track and album art, as well as the music and video assets. While waiting for their performance time slot, fans are given the star treatment, like the opportunity to chill in a “green room,” as AI renders unique animations behind the scenes.
When it’s time to hit the digital recording studio, fans are notified on their phones to head into the green screen space and make their moves with the help of a 75-inch touch screen that guides the experience. A large LED wall behind the performers displays their bespoke, animated AI graphics, along with digital fog and pyrotechnic effects. After the video is recorded and saved, it’s uploaded to the cloud and delivered by email within seconds. Fans can also access the final product by scanning a QR code on the touch screen that links to a dedicated landing page and the option to share a hi-res version of the video on social.
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“AI is really interesting, and we’re seeing a lot of really great ways to create more immersive and customized experiences,” says Ryan Keen, senior marketing manager at Coca-Cola. “We’ve done programs outside of festivals, for example, with our sponsorship of the Drake [concert] tour, where we’re using AI to enable fans to immerse themselves in a version of the Sprite commercial that Drake did with us. So it creates much more customized creative that couldn’t otherwise be done on a manual basis at scale.”
“At scale” is a key phrase when it comes to AI in events, as marketers now have the ability to deliver hyper-personalized activations while simultaneously crushing throughput objectives. As Coke can attest to, an experience that yields highly shareable assets and only takes a few minutes to create has major appeal among young festivalgoers, many of whom could be found lining up around the brand’s booth throughout the summer to get a taste of stardom.
Fueling the entire Coke AI Studio operation is a combination of creative technologies, including AI video generation, ChatGPT and real-time game engines. Together, they’re used to analyze the same prompts, but interpret them in different ways in real time to generate unique songs, artwork and video elements for each attendee. Incorporating the same prompts but yielding different outputs that, ultimately, create the same overarching experience, is a first in the world of AI, according to Momentum Worldwide, with which Coca-Cola partnered to develop the Coke AI Studio, with assistance from tech partner Tool.
Of course, experimenting with a relatively new technology presents a number of risks. When it comes to leveraging artificial intelligence, particularly with art-centric activations like Coke’s, marketers should be wary of copyright infringement.
“The biggest learning was how you have to safeguard it,” says James Robinson, chief creative officer at Momentum Worldwide. “You have to ethically source everything. So we were making sure that everything was being generated from [content] that was licensed, and we weren’t taking anything from an artist. That was very important. But then there is the output that has to be very carefully monitored by both AI and human oversight to make sure that you’re not spitting out anything that resembles an existing artist’s name or an existing piece of music.”
With AI slated to continue progressing at the speed of light, the Coke AI Studio experience is likely to evolve with it, according to Robinson, who says the activation is being treated as a “long-tail” project.
For Coke, the AI games have just begun. Earlier this year, the brand unveiled “Create Real Magic,” a first-of-its kind AI platform developed by OpenAI and Bain & Company that fused the capabilities of GPT-4 and DALL-E, and invited digital artists to produce original AI artwork with brand assets from the Coca‑Cola archives for a chance to have it displayed on billboards in Times Square and Piccadilly Circus.
And in August, Coke partnered with technologist Troy Ni and WPP Open X to create artistic, AI-generated QR codes tied to elements in “Be Who You Are (Real Magic),” Coke Studio’s debut music video. The codes appeared in OOH displays at movie theaters, stadiums and theme parks around the U.S., and linked to the full music video when scanned.
“I think, ultimately, it’s [about] finding really authentic ways and experiences that AI can enable,” Keen says. “Using AI for the sake of AI creates more of a buzzword, and for the consumer, that may not provide value. So the example that we have with Sprite and Drake, or the program we’re doing with Coke Studio and the AI content creation that people can do with their own album artwork and their own music videos, I think, is where people will really be engaged and pleased by the technology.”
Photo credit: Coca-ColaThis story appeared in the Fall 2023 issue