Journey UK Editor Matthew Hepburn checks out Coca-Cola’s ‘war room’ to find out how the company is bringing its game to this summer’s UEFA EURO 2016™ tournament with real-time marketing.

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest football fan. So when I had the opportunity to check out Coca-Cola’s "war room", a place where team members gather to follow the matches and respond to moments in real-time on social media, I wondered how much would make sense.

In a small meeting room, social media experts huddled over their laptops, next to big TV screens. One screen showing the game, another pulling in a stream of social media updates, and another providing a live video link to Coke colleagues across Europe.

Right now, it’s the most connected room in the office. The only thing that could take it out is a poorly-timed power cut. But with the amount of thought that has gone into it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a generator hidden under one of the desks.

As we watch the game, the atmosphere is full of suspense. Community managers are on tenterhooks looking out for opportunities to engage with fans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. When the moment arises, everything suddenly kicks into action and, within seconds, our central marketing team has designed content, shared it with legal, and sent it to the corresponding countries. 

The process is extremely slick, yet simple.

The country teams then decide if they want to publish the content on social media, based on whether it’s still timely and relevant. The idea being to capitalize on the buzz, and join in the conversations fans are having online in a clever and legitimate way. This is what’s known in the industry as real-time marketing.

The beauty of having a dedicated war room for real-time marketing seems to be the efficiency of having colleagues from different areas of the business all together in one room. Whether that’s to manage approvals, brainstorm ideas or create content. It also helps the team get their head in the game, so to speak.

But what happens (in the likely event) that you can’t get everyone together in one room? In the corner, I noticed several team members tapping away on their phones, using an app called Slack.

If you’re new to Slack, think of it as a pimped-out messenger service, which allows users to control most of the settings for a truly customized experience. It works across multiple devices, supports sending large files and can be integrated with other mobile apps and services. It’s essentially making the war room a virtual space, and enabling instant communication between teams who can't be there in person. 

I may still be none the wiser when it comes to football, but it doesn’t take a die-hard fan to know that our Coca-Cola UEFA EURO 2016™ team has created a winning formation with their war room. But it seems that the real test comes with patiently waiting for the perfect moment to score with content that makes real-time marketing, right-time marketing.

Matthew Hepburn

Matthew Hepburn is editor of Coca-Cola Journey Great Britain and Ireland. Coca-Cola has sponsored the UEFA European Championship since 1998, and is a key sponsor of this summer’s UEFA EURO 2016™ tournament in France. Follow the conversation on Twitter: