Touted as the “world’s largest beverage company”, Coca-Cola is about to take social networking to a new level with its up-and-coming Expedition 206. Three lucky people will embark on a 275,000 mile journey through 206 countries and territories where the Coke products are sold. The year-long mission for the three “Happiness Ambassadors,” is simple – find out what makes people happy.
After getting recommendations from various sources, 60 potential candidates were up for the once-in-a-lifetime gig. The candidate list was then narrowed to 18 and then to nine. The three lucky winners were selected in a world-wide online vote. Antonio Santiago, Kelly Ferris and Tony Martin will kick off their year-long adventure on January 1, 2010, in Madrid.
Between them, the team speaks several languages including English, French, German, Spanish and Dutch. To help prepare for the jaunt around the world, the three took part in a “Happiness Ambassador Training Camp” which included a variety of educational sessions, speed-packing techniques, exotic food tasting and tips to stay mentally and physically healthy on the road. The team will receive per diem for food and local travel.
Social Networking Kicked up a Notch
Armed with laptops, video cameras and smart phones, the trio will document its “search for happiness” throughout the 365-day journey. During the “Open Happiness” campaign, the threesome will be visiting people from other cultures, sharing their stories and adventures via blogs, tweets, videos, and more. Viewers can track the trio’s trek on a variety of social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Viewers can also watch the Expedition 206 in real-time on the official website.
Besides participating in the Winter Olympics, World Expo, FIFA World Cup and other global and local events along the way, fans will be able to get in on the adventure, too. By serving as “virtual travel agents,” people from across the globe will get to play a part in where the Happiness Ambassadors go and what they do. Know a fabulous restaurant in Italy or must-see attraction in England? Go ahead and let them in on the secret.
And Coca-Cola will be watching! In the age of social and digital media, combining PR, communications and marketing is one way to expand a brand. While logistical, digital communication and unknown challenges may occur during the trip, contingency plans have been created, just in case.
The last stop of the Expedition 206 will be in Atlanta, on December 31, 2010. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just thinking about this!