IBM Helps Quench Coca-Cola’s Thirst


Digital asset-management system eases ad archive woes


Since its first advertising campaign in 1886, Coca-Cola has generated thousands of print, audio and video promotional campaigns. But for Coca-Cola employees, trying to locate a specific piece of marketing material was, at times, like trying to capture and isolate a bubble in a bottle of Coke.

IBM has helped change that. Big Blue teamed up with Big Red to create a digital asset-management system that allows any one of Coca-Cola's thousands of associates in 200 countries to retrieve Coke advertising information.

Designed and implemented by IBM's Atlanta-based Digital Media Solutions Group and IBM Global Services, the system runs mainly on IBM software and gear, including Content Manager for database management and cross-attribute searches, Tivoli Storage Manager for the protection and storage of mission-critical data, X Series and P Series Unix-based servers, and customer Java servlets. IBM also used Virage's Video Application Platform to manage and distribute digital media and Optibase's Movie Maker for MPEG encoding.

IBM has worked with Coca-Cola for years, but the two companies never discussed creating a digital library of the beverage giant's advertising images until recently. Steven Canepa, vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM's media and entertainment industry solutions unit, said Coca-Cola realized the importance of cataloging its material after the Smithsonian Institution added some early Coke ads to its archives.

Canepa said IBM's directives in creating the system were similar to those faced by solution providers serving much smaller clients: improve production and workflow efficiencies, reduce cycle times and increase go-to-market speed. The other focus of the project was to create a system that both exploited and protected Coca-Cola's intellectual property, he said.

"There were some instances where if the team had to put out a new message, they would have to spend days tracking down the right material," said Canepa. "And those people were always [reliant upon the depth of knowledge of other people in charge of the material. This system now gives people at branch and foreign offices the ability to serve themselves."

The archived materials are organized across three libraries: an image library with more than 9,000 graphical images, a document library with 7,000 text documents and an advertising library with the capacity to hold more than 25,000 TV ads and corporate videos. Coca-Cola employees can access the entire archive of print and video ads by using a word or phrase search. They can also work on a job in a collaborative environment.

"While preservation and retrieval of that material is important, we also wanted to create a robust system that would enable our employees to access our historical data and work collaboratively, all from their desktops," said Philip Mooney, director of Coca-Cola's corporate archives.

The biggest challenge faced by the IBM team, besides creating and building the system for less than $5 million, was addressing the client's business requirements early in the planning stages, Canepa said. As with most major productions, it's easier and cheaper to make changes before the physical implementation begins, he noted. "As you get deeper into a job, the changes require a lot of rework," he said. "We go through this tremendous planning stage where we really clarify technical requirements early on."

Any solution provider can drink to that advice.