Coca-Cola 125: Jackson Spalding’s weekend to remember

This past weekend, Coca-Cola celebrated 125 years since the first Coca-Cola was enjoyed on May 8, 1886. I was fortunate enough to help Jackson Spalding coordinate portions of the event and to invite select media to Friday night’s illumination of the Coca-Cola Tower and Saturday’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Concert in Centennial Olympic Park.

What a weekend!

On Friday, The Coca-Cola Company gave a spectacular visual “Thank You” with the world’s largest single building illumination of its headquarters tower in Atlanta. Even better, the illumination will be on display every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening in May. Look to the Atlanta skyline between 9 and 11 p.m.

The video at the top of this page is a short look at the illumination.

On Saturday, The Coca-Cola Company shared moments of happiness in a way Coca-Cola always has – by bringing people together through music, art and entertainment. Coca-Cola hosted a 125th Anniversary Celebration Concert streamed online as a live “thank you” to people around the world.

The best part for me was working with the incredibly bright public relations team at Coca-Cola and learning more about the brand assets of one of the world’s largest companies.

I also enjoyed spending long days with one of my all-time favorite JSers, Whitney Ott, and a new favorite, Lauren Coppage. Whitney led the project for Jackson Spalding and kept the entire team organized and on track. She also monitored the pulse of our client and did everything within her power to ensure he was pleased with our work. Lauren was indispensable and touched every portion of the project in a meaningful way. For now she’s still an intern but she proved to be confident and capable beyond her years.

I was tasked with working with Jackson Spalding’s director of social media, Stefany Sanders, and with Megan Jentz (my go-to APR source) to identify online influencers. With input from the client, the list shrunk and morphed to a small mix of traditional and online media. I pitched the media and provided brand messaging and other assets to those who attended. This required dozens of personal emails and many miles of walking through Centennial Park on Saturday.

Another highlight of the weekend was reconnecting with former colleagues Jennifer Brett of the AJC’s The Buzz and Byron Small of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. I was also happy to meet Amy Wenk of Midtown Patch, Tessa Horehled with Drive a Faster Car, Melinda Bluett with Atlanta Social Guide and Shelbi Saine with Midtown Mile.

We closely tracked tweets, posts, mentions and conversations for all of the media outlets — traditional and otherwise — and I’ll soon know who has the most influence and whether some of my hunches were right. I won’t be able to share that data here but it will inform future posts I may write about social media influence and how it compares to traditional media. (I’m particularly interested in how the social media networks of traditional media stacks up against media that only have social media channels).

For now, though, I’m basking in the glory of an incredible weekend and a job well done by The Coca-Cola Company and its partners, including ignition, Obscura Digital, 360i and more.

Friday’s digital illumination of the Coca-Cola headquarters is one of the coolest moments I have ever taken part in. And Saturday’s 125th Anniversary Celebration Concert defies description.

The concert was hosted by Ryan Seacrest, as well as Dusty Sorg and Michael Jedrzejewski, the two Coca-Cola fans who founded the brand’s Facebook page and brought it to more than 25 million fans.

K’NAAN, the artist behind “Wavin’ Flag,” the Coca-Cola anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup that became a worldwide hit, kicked off the concert. Emerging talent One Night Only, Grammy-nominated pop star Natasha Bedingfield, R&B artist Ne-Yo and Grammy award-winning singer and American Idol season one winner Kelly Clarkson also performed.

The finale of the concert featured a choir performance of, “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” from Coca-Cola’s classic 1970s Hilltop advertising.

At the end of it all, I’ll call this a career highlight for me and my colleagues.

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