Tuesday, June 25th, was a big day for Coca-Cola Japan. In addition to celebrating our 56th anniversary, we also took the next step in our ongoing communications journey by launching our new corporate website.

Coca-Cola Journey embraces a dynamic, magazine-style approach to storytelling and conversation-provoking content consumers will want to read and share. At the heart of this new site is Coca-Cola Story, which will bring to life compelling news and information from across the Coca-Cola system in Japan – from new products and promotional campaigns, to sustainability programs and employee profiles. Content will include original stories and article series authored by both our local Coca-Cola Journey editorial team and external contributors, photo essays, and interviews with experts and celebrities connected to our business. The site will be updated weekly with new stories on 10 topics: Brands, Lifestyle, Vending Machines, Business, Innovation, Partners, People, Sustainability, Heritage and Global Story.

We will drive traffic to Coca-Cola Journey through Coca-Cola Park, our consumer platform with 12 million members, and socialize our content through the Coca-Cola News e-mail newsletter (3.7 million subscribers), Coca-Cola Japan Twitter account (80,000 followers) and Facebook page (380,000 fans). Our goal is to inspire more than 1 million people to visit Coca-Cola Journey each month.

On behalf of my Coca-Cola Japan colleagues, I’d like to share a bit of context and personal insights on how this groundbreaking project came to be…

Our Journey Begins

Around 10 months ago, we began discussions with the Coca-Cola Japan interactive marketing team about the content we wanted to include on our new website. Frankly, we never imagined the Coca-Cola Japan site would take the form it now does. Around autumn, we began talking about how the Japanese website should include many of the same features as the global Coca-Cola Journey site, which launched last November. Our discussions transitioned into talk of completely revamping our site.

At the end of 2012, we finalized an overview of the new website, identifying both the global ideas we wanted to incorporate and original Japanese content we wanted to keep and reinforce. I was appointed editor of Coca-Cola Story, a unique feature of Coca-Cola Journey Japan. Starting in early 2013, I began to search for partners, create plans, organize editorial meetings, schedule and conduct interviews, and write and submit content. Launch day approached quicker than I imagined.

At the end of March, members of Coke’s global Digital Communications & Social Media team from Atlanta and the agency partner responsible for production and operation visited us in Tokyo. We decided to launch our version of Coca-Cola Journey on the same platform used by the global team and began to hold weekly teleconference updates. Due to the 13-hour time difference, our U.S. colleagues were in full-on work mode starting at 7:00 a.m. I’m not a morning person, so I was also very impressed by this!

Time Winds Down

The decision to launch on June 25 was made due to one simple insight: “We might as well time the website launch to coincide with the company’s anniversary in Japan.” When we started the project last year, I went about my work in a calm manner. However, in early May—with less than two months to go—I suddenly realized how little time we had left.

To tell the truth, there was a great deal of work left after the Golden Week holidays (Early May in Japan), including arrangements to be made with the global team. In the end, I was a bit concerned about whether we would finish before the late-June launch. However, we were able to complete our work while resolving every issue we encountered thanks to the prompt, professional responses by our in-house colleagues from interactive marketing and business systems, as well as our external partners in Japan. As we approached mid-June, I finally felt like our goal was reachable.

In the two weeks before the launch, we increased the frequency of our teleconferences to three times per week. A week before the launch, the project manager from the global production team visited Japan again to confirm each detail. Since the site was slated to go live on June 25, I was unfortunately unable to relax on June 24, a company-wide holiday in celebration of Coca-Cola Japan’s anniversary.

The Next Phase of Our Journey

While I am sharing my personal thoughts on the background of this project, our website was created thanks to the wonderful work and leadership of many professionals across functions and geographies. As indicated by the name Coca-Cola Journey, the launch of this site is not our goal. What is important is that we continue to push forward.

To Coca-Cola Japan, our approach to Coca-Cola Journey represents a brand-new endeavor. Frankly, at this stage, I cannot say with confidence how it will be received by others or how it will evolve. However, I do hope the story we will deliver through Journey will create opportunities for as many people as possible to learn about, become interested in and increase their appreciation for Coca-Cola by engaging with other fans and stakeholders.

I look forward to bringing this excitement to Coca-Cola Journey with different people in the future!

Katsuya Sato is manager of digital communications for Coca-Cola Japan.