How do you convince millions of Australians to say "yes" to a new taste?

You could try and explain the flavor, but nothing actually compares to taking that very first sip. This was the challenge the Coca-Cola Australia team faced in getting the new Coca-Cola No Sugar (referred to as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar in other markets) into the hands of Australians across the country.

In its biggest-ever sampling campaign, the brand marketing team set out to distribute 2 million samples out across Australia.

“The proof is really in the pudding,” said Marina Rocha, group marketing manager, Coca-Cola. “We knew people would need to get their hands on it and try it for themselves. Trial of the product was very, very crucial from the beginning. "

Coke No Sugar
By shouting the word “YES!” into the billboard panel a 250ml bottle of chilled Coke No Sugar popped out - for free.

Billboard Serving it Up

On bustling Pitt Street in the heart of Sydney, Coca-Cola installed what looked like a normal sign. But by shouting the word “YES!” into the panel, a free bottle of ice-cold Coke No Sugar.

“At the beginning, people thought that screaming 'yes' at a random panel was a bit weird,” Rocha said. “But once people actually started doing it, they actually attracted people around them and encouraged them to do it themselves. People would stop walking to wonder what on Earth was going on.”

What’s That? The Sound of Free Samples

Most of us have used or at least heard of Shazam, the smartphone app that identifies songs you don’t know. More than 10 million Australians already have the app on their phone. The team worked up a plan so that whenever the Coca-Cola No Sugar TV commercial played, all a viewer had to do was hold up their phone to receive a voucher that entitled them to one free Coke No Sugar.

“It works like a QR code, but with audio. Their technology is incredible,” said Rocha. “When you Shazam the spot, it picks up the 'Taste of Feeling' remix.”

Thirsty in the Winter

A different challenge for Rocha's team was getting cold beverages in the hands of people who are also, well, cold. While Coke normally runs promotions when the weather’s warmer, the team needed to find a fun way to get the word out about Coke No Sugar during the Australian winter.

Say Yes to the Taste You Love
“The idea of going down to the snow was that people need their refreshment, because they’re exercising, they’re warm,” said Group Marketing Manager Marina Rocha

“It’s a challenge to launch a new refreshing drink in the middle of winter. Despite the season, we still did a lot of can in hand sampling across the country, but we thought why not embrace the wintery challenge head on,” said Rocha. “So we hit on the idea of going down to the snow where people need their refreshment.”

She added, “People were just so happy, and really surprised by the taste of it."

Meanwhile, more than 50,000 bottles are being distributed via Go-Catch, the fast-growing ride sharing service in Australia. When a customer books a ride on the app, imagine their surprise as at random a customized Coke No Sugar car pulls up with a frosty cooler bag of Coke No Sugar. Not only is your refreshment free – but your ride, as well.

In addition, Foodora and Menulog’s food delivery services top eight restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney will have free Coke No Sugar with their orders.

Kelly Rowland Coming to You (Facebook) Live

The crown jewel in the Coca-Cola No Sugar sampling campaign was the launch event, a surprise performance by singer Kelly Rowland. Though she’d been in Australia for months for the current season of "The Voice", Rowland hadn’t actually performed live.

Coke nabbed her for the launch of Coca-Cola No Sugar, but didn’t tell anyone in advance. “We didn’t really promote that she’d be there. We kept it relatively secretive,” said Rocha. “We told people to come down to Parramatta to see what we were launching for the first time, with a special guest. When we announced who it was, people lost it. The crowd was loving it.”

Lucky high school student Liaana Pokoina scored a free Coca-Cola No Sugar, by serenading Kelly Rowland at the Parramatta launch.

The person who was most excited was Rowland fan Liaana Pokoina. When the emcee asked what people would do for a free Coca-Cola No Sugar, Liaana grabbed the mic and sang. Her song choice? The Kelly/Nelly duet "Dilemma" with improvised lyrics about the new Coke drink. 

“It was totally unexpected, we didn’t know it was going to happen,” said Rocha. “Liaana was super-excited, and she wanted to show Kelly she could sing, and she had a beautiful voice!”

Samples were delivered with the help of friends and fans via Facebook Live. Comedians Lana Kington and Madison Lloyd of SketchShe buckled up to take a road trip from Northmead, picking up singer Tom Jay Williams and gamer ChampChong for a few laughs en route.

Coca-Cola No Sugar Car
The aim of the entire campaign was to reach through the usual boundaries and make a genuine connection with Coca-Cola fans and ask them to try something new.