Sprite Yard is the right idea

And this morning, a glimpse of the future:

Sprite Launches Mobile Social Network
by Tameka Kee, Thursday, Jun 7, 2007 6:00 AM ET
MOVE OVER, MYSPACE AND FACEBOOK. Coca-Cola’s Sprite is debuting its own social network, called the Sprite Yard.The brand’s global interactive marketing team is betting that the mobile platform will set new benchmarks for consumer brand engagement.

Launched officially in China on June 1, with plans for a U.S. rollout to start June 22, users connect with the Sprite Yard through any WAP-enabled phone. After texting the word “YARD” to 59666 (LYMON), they are invited to register–and to create a tag name, a profile, and even an avatar. Members of the community can then share pictures, send “Shouts” to their friends, post “Scribbles” to a discussion board, and plan events on a shared calendar.

At the Sprite Yard, users will also have access to “Nuggets” of exclusive downloadable content, from mobisodes (short animated and video content created by Coca-Cola and other media partners) to ringtones. The branding tie-in is designed to drive sales as well as engagement, as content can only be unlocked by using a PIN found under Sprite bottle caps. (Story.)

I’m in no position to predict how well executed this project will be, but the concept is dead-on and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the model for consumer brand mobility over the next couple of years.

Really, my biggest question at the moment would be about the downloadable “nuggets.” They’ll do ringtones and wallpapers, of course, and those mobisodes can be killer if done properly. Essentially, the need to make sure they’re using them to depict a branded world where Sprite is confidently embedded – if they try and push the buy message too hard (something they’re surely smart enough to avoid) they’ll lose the audience.

However, there’s a lot more they can do through this channel – and they may have things like SMS and MMS content planned already. Shouts and scribbles and shared event calendars are going to click nicely, as they play directly to the target demo’s inherent pack character, so it looks from here like Sprite has done its homework.

I’ll be watching to see how well it works for them.

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