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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Coca-Cola invites fans to create AI art with its iconic imagery

Coca-Cola is inviting fans to harness AI tools to create new designs around some of its most famed images, including the classic contoured bottle, soda-guzzling polar bears, and even Santa Claus himself. A new Coca-Cola website enables visitors across 17 countries, including the U.S., to select Coke imagery, then provide instructions for artwork and copy ideas—such as robots toasting with Coke bottles, or a poem about drinking soda on a hot summer’s day—to the latest versions of OpenAI’s DALL-E and GPT systems, which generate images and text, respectively.

“We’re very excited to see what they bring to the table,” says Manolo Arroyo, global chief marketing officer for The Coca-Cola Company. “It’s a first experiment to see what are the boundaries of how the technology works.”

After users (who must be at least 18 years old) tweak the images and any text with onsite editing tools, they can opt to enter their work into a contest where top images will be chosen for display on Coca-Cola’s billboards in New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. The top 30 AI artists will also be invited to participate in what Coke is calling the Real Magic Creative Academy in Atlanta this summer, receiving a trip to meet with Coca-Cola designers. The website and contest run through the end of March.

Participants will own the rights to their own components of the designs, while Coca-Cola will naturally hang on to its rights to the existing imagery, Arroyo says.

While Coca-Cola has collaborated with artists over its long history—and had its designs featured in works by artists like Andy Warhol—this is the first time it’s calling upon fans at large to create their own takes on its imagery. It’s part of a larger push by the soft drink giant to experiment with generative AI, as companies and experimenters of all sorts race to integrate the technology into everything from search engines to fashion shows. In addition to the contest, Coke is teaming up with AI artists Emma Sofija, Ean Hwa Huag, and the team of Chris Branch and Paul Parsons, who have used the OpenAI tools to build their own projects around Coke assets as part of the campaign.

“It’s a very, very new field for us and for most companies out there,” Arroyo says.

Internally, the company is also experimenting with using AI tools in exploring innovative new ideas and designing data-driven marketing material, Arroyo says. For instance, the company is using AI and social media posts to predict future beverage trends in developing markets, like, say, which regions will prefer coffee or tea, and which will prefer different Coca-Cola soda flavors, Arroyo says.

AI can also potentially play a role in crafting marketing material displayed in the roughly 30 million customer outlets where Coke products are sold worldwide, he says, helping the company statistically analyze factors like where to place text, how people should be depicted, and whether they should be shown actively drinking beverages. 


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