Coca-Cola takes over Las Vegas Sphere with AI soda

—Holograms of the Jonas Brothers and a performance by Marshmello kick off the Sphere ads for Y3000 Zero Sugar, which will run for one week.—

By Brandon Doerrer

Those in Las Vegas have a new sight to behold alongside the glitzy casinos and towering hotels, as Coca-Cola has taken over the city’s Sphere to promote an AI-inspired soda called Y3000 Zero Sugar.

Through Monday (November 13), the Sphere, a giant spherical screen that displays animated ads and other visuals on its exterior, and holds concerts inside, will periodically bubble with a caramel liquid before washing away to reveal a depiction of a futuristic city called Destination Y3000, which is filled with easter eggs such as items from a clothing line created with designer brand Ambush.

The city will show a QR code that takes scanners through the Y3000 AI phone cam experience, which uses AI to turn a picture of their environment into a futuristic city.

To accompany the Sphere ad, Coca-Cola hosted an experience at another location in Vegas featuring life-sized holograms of the Jonas Brothers that visitors can pose and take photos with, a brief performance by DJ Marshmello, and interactive mirrors where visitors can try on items from the Ambush clothing line.

Coca-Cola worked with a variety of agency partners on the Destination Y3000 experience, including Virtue, WPP’s Open X, EssenceMediacom, Ogilvy, and Sawhorse Productions. The brand relied on a mix of AI and humans for design.

Both the Jonas Brothers and Marshmello have partnered with Coca-Cola before. The former starred in a spot when Y3000 Zero Sugar launched, while the latter has his own soda flavour through Coca-Cola’s Creations platform, which it uses to market new flavors of its Zero Sugar soda to young consumers.

In June, Coca-Cola partnered with League of Legends to create an Ultimate Zero Sugar flavor through Creations. Y3000 marks the eighth flavour released through Creations, and the last one Coca-Cola will put out this year.

“You can expect more collaborations and co-creations and more experiments in the digital space starting…really early 2024,” said Oana Vlad, senior director of the Coca-Cola global brand.

Selman Careaga, president of Coca-Cola, declined to comment on how much the Destination Y3000 experience in Vegas cost.

One week of advertising on the sphere could cost $650,000, according to local Vegas broadcaster News 3.

One way Coca-Cola will measure success is by calculating how many social media users who have never interacted with the brand before engage with its content, especially in comparison to other Creation flavour launches.

Prior launches have seen 65% of engagement come from newcomers to the brand.

“We would like them to come in with Creations then…go to Coke Zero or our Coke original and stay within the franchise,” said Careaga.

Careaga said that 60% of Coca-Cola’s media output is digital, and that the Destination Y3000 experience will count towards that percentage.

Coca-Cola has been active in using AI in its campaigns. In March, it launched the Masterpiece campaign, which used AI to create artworks that it sold as NFTs in August, and held a three-day workshop in August to develop ads using AI with artists.

Coca-Cola plans to utilize AI in its Christmas campaign and for internal research, Careaga said.

The Sphere, which opened on Sept. 29, has been a major attraction for brands such as Xbox, Sony and YouTube.

But the futuristic HD screen is facing challenges. On a Wednesday (Nov. 8) earnings call, Sphere Entertainment Co. reported a $98.4 million loss for its fiscal quarter ending on Sept. 30, the Las Vegas Sun reported. The Sphere’s CFO Gautam Ranji has resigned, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

On Tuesday (November 7), the New York Post reported that Ranji abruptly quit on Monday (Nov. 6) after James Dolan, executive chairman of MSG Networks, the owner of the Sphere venue, yelled at him.

In its SEC filing, the company stated that Ranji’s exit was “not a result of any disagreement with the company’s independent auditors or any member of management on any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure or internal controls.”

Coca-Cola has not made any changes to Destination Y3000 in light of the news, said Careaga.

“We’re very excited with the partnership and we’ve been planning this for a bit of time already,” he said.

Photo courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company.

This story originally appeared at Campaign US.