Coca-Cola has launched its newest innovation: the limited edition Zero Sugar Byte, a pixel-flavoured drink that will launch first in the metaverse before making its way to physical retail. The brand describes the Zero Sugar Byte as the first Coca-Cola flavour to be born in the metaverse, which will bring the flavour of pixels to life in a limited-edition beverage that transcends the digital and physical worlds. The Zero Sugar Byte is the company’s second release from its Coca-Cola creations hub, following its release of its Starlight "space-flavoured" Coke in March this year.
A suite of immersive digital experiences will be launched to introduce Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, with the main focus being Pixel Point, an island created in Fortnite Creative designed by Coca-Cola and lifestyle and gaming organisation PWR.
Upon entry, players will discover Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte in the metaverse and interact with fellow gamers through a series of four sensory-inspired, multiplayer mini-games: The Castle, The Escape, The Race and The Tower. Each immersive room poses its own challenge that can only be solved by working in tandem with fellow players to progress up the tower. The independently created Fortnite Creative experience is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Epic Games.
Fans can also scan a Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte package to access an AR game, which tells the story of BYTE, an eight-bit pixel left behind when Coca-Cola Byte entered the metaverse. Using fingers to hold down arrows, players can guide BYTE to “jump” up a spiral staircase so the lone pixel can rejoin the Coca-Cola logo. Players’ finish times will be posted to a virtual leaderboard that can be shared on social media.
The drink was created by a global, cross-functional Coca-Cola team led by the North America operating unit, featuring leaders across creative, marketing, technology, R&D and design. Packaging graphics also feature pixels forming the iconic Coca-Cola logo.
Oana Vlad, senior director of global strategy at Coca-Cola, explained that for its second expression from Coca-Cola Creations, the team wanted to create an innovative taste inspired by the playfulness of pixels, rooted in the experiences that gaming makes possible.
The Zero Sugar Byte will be sold in twin packs, one can for consumption and the other for collecting purposes. The company reports that the twin packs will be available in very limited quantities, and will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis in retail outlets. Latin American consumers will be the first to get a taste of the new drink, with the product having launched on 4 April. In the US, it will only launch on 2 May, and on 23 May in China, reports the company in a press statement.
The consecutive releases also signal the company’s shift to broaden its appeal among younger consumers who are well versed in tech. On the Starlight Coke launch, Coca-Cola said in a press release that its culturally relevant expressions, creative collaborations and packaging designs were made with its young Gen Z consumers in mind. The brand also brought in singer Ava Max to feature in an AR concert, a digitally-driven campaign to market the product. Coca-Cola also looks to launch more flavours under its creation hub this year.
Coca-Cola made its way into the metaverse last year, with its NFT collectables launched on International Friendship Day. As part of the launch, four unique Coca-Cola NFTs were auctioned as a single “loot box,” in order to raise funds for Special Olympics International - a long-time partner of the brand's. On the launch, Vlad reiterated that the company has been watching the NFT, cryptocurrency and metaverse space, viewing the launch as a timely opportunity to participate in and learn from this emerging space. "International Friendship Day is the perfect occasion to bring people together virtually in a uniquely Coca-Cola way while raising funds for our close friends of 53 years at Special Olympics,” said Vlad.
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