My Coke Rewards
|Type of site||Customer loyalty|
|Available in||1 language|
|Created by||The Coca-Cola Company|
|Launched||February 20, 2006|
My Coke Rewards is a customer loyalty marketing program for The Coca-Cola Company. Customers enter codes found on specially marked packages of Coca-Cola products on a website. Codes can also be entered "on the go" by texting them from a cell phone. These codes are converted into virtual "points" which can in turn be redeemed by members for various prizes or sweepstakes entries. The number of points from each product depends on the brand as well as the item itself.
The program was launched in February 2006. By November of that year, over a million prizes had been redeemed. The program has since been extended annually for the past 10 years with the current extension until 31 December 2016. Any points left over from one year by one member carries over into the next, provided the member has accrued/debited points within a 90-day/3-month period. In September 2013, the My Coke Rewards Beta was launched. The new system which ran on the same website, but with /beta after the .com on the address, uses social media challenges and My Coke Rewards codes to gain "status" points to level up, with +5 status points just by creating an account. The levels were bronze, silver, and gold, which replaced the test phase levels of Red, Gold, and Twilight, and points or status is rewarded when a user levels up. The "status" points were discontinued in mid-June 2016.
The program has always featured limits on the number of codes and points that could be redeemed at one time. Before 17 February 2009, members were limited to entering 10 codes per day, regardless of the number of points that this represented. Members who entered 10 codes from 32-can packages could, under this system, earn a total of 250 points per day, or 1,750 per week. This represented the maximum rate at which points could be accrued without the use of bonus points and similar promotions.
In February 2009, this system was changed. Up until 21 January 2015, members had been limited to entering 100 points per week (now 75), regardless of the number of codes redeemed per day (before that, the limit was 120 to 12 January 2014). Bonus points and promotional offers such as “Double Points Days” are still not subject to this weekly limit. My Coke Rewards now has a meter that tells the member how many points they earned during the current week, and whether they have reached the 75 point-per-week limit. Attempts to enter codes that exceed the limit (for example, entering any code which will exceed 75 points) do not cause overflow; the participant is told to “hold on to that code”. (Any bonus points are limited to 2,000 points per week. The limit a member can bank is 10,000 points total weekly.)
In addition, the program features an expiration date on the codes that have been entered. Currently, points expire after 90 days of user account inactivity, meaning a customer must either add points to their account or claim a prize within 90 days to ensure their points do not expire.
In the UK version of the program, Coke Zone, customers can also avert point expiration by simply logging on to the website. Their codes are issued on a time-limited basis and expire at the end of the month containing the best before date of the relevant product. This program ended on 15 October 2013, and all points earned were voided at 11:59 pm on that date.
There are two types of codes: single-use and multi-use codes. Single-use codes like those found on Coke products contain a mix of letters and numbers. These codes can only be used once; if they have been entered in any account they will not work again. By contrast, multi-use codes are identified by being all numeric and may be entered by multiple users. Thus far the multi-use codes have all started with the digits 10008. They have been distributed through email, including during the 2006 Christmas holiday season, as well as through direct mail and print advertising campaigns in various magazines and other publications. Both Blockbuster and Disney (with Pirates of the Caribbean) have participated in such special promotions.
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The program is one of several marketing campaigns that have come under fire from the Center for Digital Democracy, an advocacy group interested in regulating how food products are marketed to children. Coca-Cola's online marketing techniques are included in a 98-page report issued in May 2007 by the center and the American University called "Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Children and Youth" which criticizes the program for collecting personal information from children and for promoting obesity.
Childhood obesity was also a concern for weight-loss instructor Julia Griggs Havey who sued Coca-Cola over the program in 2006, but dropped her lawsuit a few weeks later. The lawsuit was dropped for the specific reason of it being frivolous, since there was a misinterpretation as to what was required of a user in order to accumulate Coke points and obtain the currently available reward prizes. The first assumption—that those who have Coke codes must purchase the product in order to redeem them—was shown to be untrue, as Coke stated they took into consideration that users may obtain codes from others. Second, it was pointed out that the Coca-Cola Company has other products besides Coca-Cola, including Minute Maid juice, Powerade, Powerade Zero and Dasani water, for those who do not wish to consume high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup or caffeine. Additionally, many grocery stores and discount stores offer Coca-Cola products (often imported) that are sweetened with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Some customers[who?] have further accused Coca-Cola of utilizing "bait-and-switch" tactics in the program. They claim that the prizes for which they had been saving are either constantly out of stock or are no longer available. Some items have experienced steep unexpected price increases, as well; for example the coupons for a free 20 ounce bottle of Coke increased 67% (from 24 points to 40), a $75 Blockbuster gift card which used to cost 722 points went up to 1,020 points (a 41% increase) before being discontinued, a single Napster download went from 35 to 70 points from 2010 to 2011 (and 10 from 350 to 700, a 100% increase), and the price of a GPX docking station went up from 975 points to 1,820 (an 87% increase). These increases, it should be noted, took place at the same time as Coca-Cola was taking drastic measures to decrease the number of points awarded (through its February 2009 rule changes which reduced the maximum number of points from 1,750 per week to currently 75).
For its part, Coca Cola has maintained that all prizes in the My Coke Rewards program are available "while supplies last," and that there is no guarantee expressed or intended that a given prize will either continue to be offered or continue to be offered at the same price.
Some prizes are advertised as "free." For example, a customer may redeem points for a "free 20 oz. sparkling product". What the customer receives is a manufacturer's coupon. These coupons are not accepted at all retailers who sell Coca-Cola products, which can be frustrating to customers. Also, when a customer finds a retailer who does accept the coupons, he or she is responsible for sales tax on the retail price of the product plus any state container deposits. In California, for example, redeeming a "free" coupon for a 20 oz. beverage will cost the consumer $0.20.
- Pepsi Stuff — direct competition
- Official FAQ.
- "Participating Brands". My Coke Rewards. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- Coca-Cola North America Announces Launch of "My Coke Rewards" Largest Program of Its Kind in Coca-Cola History, The Coca-Cola Company press release, 2006-02-28.
- My Coke Rewards Celebrates Redemption of One Millionth Reward and Offers 20 Million Free Bonus Points for the Holidays, PR Newswire, November 9, 2006.
- "FAQ". My Coke Rewards. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- "FAQ". My Coke Rewards. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- "How MCR Works". My Coke Rewards. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- My Coke Rewards.
- "Coke Zone terms and conditions". Cokezone.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "Coke Zone help". Cokezone.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- Marketing brief - "Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing" (PDF).
- Full report -- "Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing" (PDF).
- Stefanie Olsen (May 17, 2007). "Protecting kids from online food ads". CNET news. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2007.
- Woman drops suit against Coca-Cola, St. Petersburg Times, 2006-08-06. Archived January 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Legal". My Coke Rewards. Retrieved 6 December 2015.