Finding the Sweet Spot: How a ‘Digital Disruptor’ Earns Consumers’ Trust at Coca-Cola Freestyle

May 1, 2015

Scott Cuppari [alex wilson/wvu]
Scott Cuppari [alex wilson/wvu]

“A digital disruptor is at the intersection of brand marketing, tech innovation and connections planning,” says Scott Cuppari, global marketing director for Coca-Cola Freestyle. He manages the brand’s IMC strategy and execution, including creative, public relations, digital, social community management, search and mobile apps.

Cuppari spoke at the PRSA Strategic Collaboration Conference in New York City on April 23-24. His session, “Customer Engagement Across Platforms: Build Your Interactions for a Competitive Advantage,” focused on weaving stories across paid, earned, owned and shared media platforms, as well as the impact that engagement has on customer behavior.

Tactics talked with the 20-year marketing veteran and West Virginia University's IMC graduate program alumnus about the challenges of his job, gaining customers’ trust and finding the right social media platforms.

You have a unique job description — what does a “digital disruptor” do?

Well, my actual title is global marketing director for Coca-Cola Freestyle. But the “digital disruptor” title stuck because I’m well- versed in marketing and technical [aspects] and I often challenge the status quo. It is fun to reimagine the consumer experience and mobile technologies. I’ve been involved in five patents for Coca-Cola Freestyle, which is something that most traditional marketers can’t claim.

What are some challenges you face in your daily job?

Enforcing the spirit of IMC — it’s natural for departments to fall back into their silos. My group moved into a dedicated Innovation Center to ensure that the cross-functional team was collaborating on a routine basis. Another challenge is staying on top of consumer, technology and media trends. There are a lot of “shiny objects” that earn headlines, but you need to distill the information to measure the impact for the target audience.

Why are IMC and public relations important to what Coca-Cola Freestyle is trying to achieve?

Coca-Cola Freestyle was named “one of the coolest products of the decade” by Forbes.com, and we’ve been a part of social conversation with fans since 2009. IMC is important to ensure that we maintain our brand standards and hit all the key points, but do it without being preachy. Brands that brag or constantly push branded messages don’t typically drive organic conversation. We flip the approach by embracing the consumer's everyday conversation about Coca-Cola Freestyle to create the two-way conversation.

How can we best engage customers across all platforms and cut through the clutter?

There’s not a one-size fits all solution for every brand and every target audience. Put the consumer in the center of this decision-making process and pass the creative message through a filter of attributes for each social platform. For Coca-Cola Freestyle, we’ve decided to actively manage social communities on a few platforms, but curate consumer or paid-influencer content on a broader set of platforms.

How can we gain customers’ trust via social media platforms?

Be transparent, conversational and authentic. Deliver personalized experiences and responses to the consumer. When necessary, don’t be afraid to apologize.

Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.

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