Virtual reality for Coca-Cola, There.com

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Coca-Cola Co. is drinking up virtual worlds.

The beverage giant is bringing its MyCoke.com rewards program to the teen-centered virtual world created by Makena Technologies called There.com. The new community, dubbed CC Metro, will be located on a new Coke bottle-shaped continent within There.com and will focus on music, gaming, sports and entertainment.

Coca-Cola marketing vp Carol Kruse said the company already was one of the brand pioneers in creating virtual worlds for its consumers, adding, "With the increasing sophistication in the digital world and virtual environments, we knew it was time to take MyCoke.com to the next level and create a richer, more lifelike experience for our members."

There.com tends to target the teen audience, but Kruse said she expects CC Metro to appeal to a much broader demographic, adding that Coca-Cola associations with "American Idol," NASCAR, FIFA and the Olympics will be part of the experience.

"At this point everyone understands that virtual worlds are a great way to have a deep engagement with your consumers from the real world," she said.

There.com previously inked deals with CosmoGirl, automaker Scion and Capital Music Group, which has staged virtual concerts featuring such acts as Beastie Boys, Korn and Lily Allen. Makena also recently was nominated for an Emmy for their work on Virtual Laguna Beach for MTV Networks.

Makena CEO Michael Wilson said the deal with Coke, one of the world's best-known brands, speaks volumes about the growing power of virtual worlds.

"I don't know if this will start a land rush or not, but it does reaffirm what we are saying, which is that brands want what the same conditions they have in the real life -- they want a PG-13 audience and they want brand protection." he said.
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