Hackathons create burst of fresh digital ideas
Coca-Cola Enterprises has hosted a series of hackathons, which are idea creation events aimed at discovering fresh digital concepts. The meetings are an excellent way to improve the ways that we and our retailers reach shoppers.
Across Europe, we have also run similar initiatives with other student bodies. In fact, our Coca-Cola Enterprises team in Belgium just completed a similar hackathon with Vlerick Business School last month, and our team in Sweden also successfully ran one with Hyper Island digital students in February this year.
The rationale behind running these events is that we can involve the brilliant ideas of young students, one of the demographics we and our customers are trying to reach through digital marketing. This is one of the smartest ways to come up with ideas: to involve the market directly rather than to assume we will automatically know and address their needs.
It is particularly important in a young market, which reaches brands in very different ways from previous generations.
Hackathons give us the power of tapping into the digital native, and developing disruptive ideas. In a typical event, the ideas will be presented by students at the end of a 48 hour period, with a panel of judges from the companies and University deciding the best ideas.
They also give the students valuable experience for their CV and an opportunity to work with major brands - as well as providing us with a chance to introduce our company and job opportunities to those students.
For the Tragus and University of Westminster event, students came up with some very advanced ideas, including augmented reality and photo sharing into the restaurant experience. Their ideas encouraged people to visit the restaurants, have a great experience, and provide loyal business.
Our own hackathons
Hackathons can also be run within the business. Again, they are intensive 24 to 48 hours sessions where ideas are hatched, presented and judged.
Our IT team has run hackathon events internally, and we are trialling new online ideation and collaboration tools. We found it really helped us to refresh our ideas and change the way we collaborate. By putting members of our target audience together with different departments' staff, we can develop really powerful ideas.
Our marketing meetings typically involve a range of voices, including consumer groups, our agencies and internal marketing staff. Hackathons give us the opportunity to expand ideas before we have these meetings, and to work on making the best ideas a reality.
Digital marketing future
Coca-Cola Enterprises is very focused on a strong future in digital marketing. Areas such as mobile and social media are absolutely critical to us. In mobile, we focus on areas such as location-based marketing, mobile vouchers, digital promotions at point of sale, CRM and loyalty, as well as augmented reality. Recent examples of augmented reality include enabling consumers to access a unique Coca-Cola Placelist from Spotify from our 250ml Coca-Cola cans.
Technology and digital marketing are changing fast. Hackathons give us the opportunity to bring in new, creative ideas and make the most of the channels we market through. We intend to stay at the cutting edge of digital marketing by using the freshest ideas, directly from the audiences we want to engage.