What do @ShawnJohnson, @J_Ennis, @MischAmazing, @JessieJ, @Ludacris all have in common?  Well, it’s more than Twitter accounts; these athletes, actor/designer and musicians all #MoveToTheBeat after starring on Coke’s @BeatTV during the #London2012 Olympic Games.

gymnastics "shawn johnson" "laura whitmore"

In the hallway with host of Beat TV, Laura Whitmore and Olympic gymnast, Shawn Johnson.

When #London2012—okay, you probably realize I’m a member of the digital team, so I’ll drop the 140-character hashtag references—when London promised the world their Olympics would be the games of the youth, Coke, as an eighty-four-year sponsor, committed to doing the same.  At that moment, we knew our commitment to reach young people would mean speaking to them in their language and in the places where they spend time—i.e. social media.  And so it was with this acknowledgement that Coke’s largest, global, digital-marketing campaign began to unfold.

Coke designed its 2012 campaign to rally the world’s youth and inspire them to Move to the Beat™.  With the award-winning production skills of Mark Ronson (@iammarkronson) paired with the vocals of British singer, Katy B  (@KatyB) and five of our global athletes, an anthem of sports and music was born.  Traveling the world, Ronson captured the sounds of those athletes training for the Games; transforming sports rhythms to musical beats, he created the song “Anywhere in the World,” which became the musical thread connecting teens to the Olympic Games and sports.  Thousands of teens attended two London-based concerts to hear the song live and even more downloaded the Facebook and mobile app to create their own beats.  The song is also the source of a behind-the-scenes documentary released through Vimeo and YouTube.

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Preparing for an interview with Katy B before she performs "Anywhere in the World" on Beat TV.

But that was only the beginning, “Anywhere in the World” served as the theme song for Coke’s Beat TV which aired on London’s iTV2  for two weeks during the Games.  In thirty minutes, Beat TV covered London’s hippest parties, hosted athletes, celebrities and served as the set for live musical performances for many of the hottest and up-and-coming bands.  Mind you, this wasn’t merely a local television show. After airing in the UK it was sent to more than thirty markets around the globe, translated to several languages and posted online through our Coke YouTube channel (due to global and music rights the shows are no longer available online). Producing and a promoting a high-quality show, set for a ten day run during the Olympics, was no easy feat and so that’s where my team was called in. Working with Coke Marketing and partners from M&C Saatchi, our Digital Communications and Public Affairs team created the dedicated twitter handle @BeatTV  to engage with our global audience.  The hashtags #BeatTV and #MoveToTheBeat appeared on the TV screen and hosts Dave Berry, Laura Whitmore, and Darren McMullen worked together to promote the handle and vice versa.  Our followers participated in dance offs, weighed in on what questions to ask our athletes and celebrity guests and joked with us adding colorful commentary along the way.

So for a little more than two weeks, iTV became my home away from home.  Every day I would hop on the Tube and head over to the TV studios nestled just beyond the London Eye and along the South Bank.  My first stop was always to explore the food market and grab a bite to eat from one of the vendors—it seems every day there was a new and delicious meal to try with ties to another region of the world.  Belly full, I would enter the Studios and set up shop in a cozy green room with several professionals who now seem more like friends than colleagues. We shared many one-liners and cokes (the green room was stocked with endless supplies of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero) over the course of those two weeks together.  A few days in and having been a television reporter, I felt like I was having flashbacks.  I laughed with my husband that no matter my career path, I could not escape the narrow, twisting hallways and small sets characteristic to every TV studio I’ve stepped foot inside—this side of the Pond and back.

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Hanging out along the South Bank right outside of Beat TV studios .

Each day Jill Gate (I still miss her fabulous Scottish brogue and her telling me how “brilliant” and “lovely” my ideas were), Brit, Oli Low and I would put our heads together to come up with clever tweets and fun segments for our followers.  As we went along we created #FashionAlerts to share with the audience what our hosts were wearing—I might add that to the delight of fashionable Brand PR group director, Judith Snyder we were retweeted by Top Shop.  We recorded behind-the-scenes Q&A’s with guests exclusively for our online audience (many provided the questions) which we coined, “Behind the Beat.”  Every day from the field I would talk with Lela Singh back at headquarters in Atlanta so we could then coordinate messaging to co-promote Beat TV for our @CocaCola and @CocaColaCo audiences as well as our Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.

Jill Gate from M&C Saatchi and me with our Olympics Coke bottles on our last day at iTV Studios.

Beat TV went from being a huge challenge to an overnight success.  In less than a month we gained twenty-three thousand followers and contributed to a winning social-media plan recognized and rated by Mashable.  Coke Global Marketing Director for the Olympics, Claudia Navarro sums it up best, speaking of the digital journey we embarked on to immerse people in the London experience:

I occasionally have a Pimm’s and Coke to bring me back to the post-show evenings in London.  It’s sad, but what I really miss are pizza nights eating dough balls at Pizza Express with Brand PR team, Judith, Kate Hartman and Carrie Brown.  Guess we’ll just have to make a go of it in Sochi…. Until then follow @BeatTV as we unveil our exciting next steps for entertainment, music and sports.  Turns out I have something in common with @ShawnJohnson, @J_Ennis, @MischAmazing, @JessieJ, @Ludacris too.


Old Coke signs found along the famed Portobello Road in Notting Hill.