Coca-Cola is elevating the standard QR code into an artistic medium through a collaboration blending music, visuals, and AI technology.
Developed with creative partner WPP Open X, the QR codes tie into Coke’s global Coke Studio music platform. Each code incorporates custom AI-generated artwork depicting musicians and scenes from the brand’s “Be Who You Are” music video.
AI-Powered QR Codes In Movie Theaters & Stadiums
Scanning the codes with a phone provides access to the full music video and other content related to Coke Studio’s 2022 emerging artist campaign. The QR code designs will appear in movie theaters, stadiums, theme parks, and other venues across the United States.
Coca-Cola tapped artist and technologist Troy Ni to develop the AI-powered QR codes using models like Stable Diffusion and ControlNet. Ni had already gained a following on Reddit this summer for his artistic QR code creations generated using similar techniques.
For the Coke project, he adapted his approach to recreate visual moments from the brand’s “Be Who You Are (Real Magic)” music video. The video features Grammy and Academy Award winner Jon Batiste who is welcomed into a retro record store with a bottle of Coca-Cola.
Ni transformed screenshots and clips into QR codes that retain the defining essence of each scene using AI image generation. The fusion of functional QR technology with AI art makes the codes an engaging, scannable manifestation of the music video’s themes.
Coke’s Music Platform: Coke Studio
The QR code campaign is part of Coca-Cola’s broader investment into Coke Studio, its flagship music platform that had humble beginnings in Pakistan in 2008. The project has since expanded into a global program focused on spotlighting up-and-coming musical talent.
Coke Studio’s 13th season launched in May 2022 with the debut of the “Be Who You Are (Real Magic)” single. Written and performed by Jon Batiste, the track features artists Camilo, J.I.D, Cat Burns, and K-pop group NewJeans.
The uplifting song’s message of embracing your true self tied into Coca-Cola’s “Real Magic” brand platform centered on optimism and authenticity. After the single’s release, Coke Studio shared 8 additional new tracks from high-profile artists including Imagine Dragons, Moses Sumney, and Maisie Peters throughout 2022.
Alongside the music, Coke activated a 360-degree campaign bringing the Coke Studio vibe into the real world. Initiatives included concert title sponsorships, pop-up musical performances, augmented reality experiences, and prominent social media engagement.
Coke’s Virtual Experiences
The artistic QR codes represent the latest innovation in Coke’s ambition to blend virtual experiences with physical interactions using emerging technologies. The codes grab consumer attention in a crowded media landscape where marketers constantly compete for mobile eyeballs and scanning habits.
At the same time, the QR art displays Coke’s commitment to finding creative applications for AI technology beyond basic advertising and messaging. The collaboration with artist Troy Ni resulted in a novel, artistic application of AI creativity that provides utility through the embedded QR code link while delighting viewers.
Coca-Cola’s willingness to take risks and push boundaries with new tech also manifests in other recent projects. In March 2022, Coke unveiled its “Create Real Magic” platform developed with OpenAI and Bain & Company.
Artists Use AI Image Generation and Coca-Cola’s Archives
Powered by AI image generation, the website let users create unique digital artworks combining their own imaginative prompts with icons and motifs from Coca-Cola’s archives. The interactive experience encouraged participation with contests to have custom art displayed digitally in high-profile locations like New York’s Times Square.
Between Create Real Magic and the new QR code initiative, Coca-Cola is cultivating its brand identity as an innovator blending technology with cultural moments. The brand stays relevant by associating itself with creativity that taps into AI’s disruptive potential through a playful, optimistic lens.
Coke Hopes AI, Music, & Art Will Connect with Gen Z
The Coke Studio music campaign and supporting tech experiences target younger demographics like Gen Z which respond to experimentation and social causes. By spotlighting diverse up-and-coming musicians, Coke aims to embed its brand as an ally celebrating identity and self-expression.
And with HERE Studio, the brand is nurturing a creative community of artists, producers, and filmmakers from underrepresented groups. Whether through music or art, Coke is striving to connect its heritage to what matters now from sustainability to diversity and inclusion.
At the same time, the QR campaign monopolyizes on the current mainstream adoption of QR code scanning. Once ignored as frivolous black and white squares, a 2020 study found 96% of people with smartphones had scanned a QR code at some point.
The pandemic and necessity of contactless engagement propelled adoption. But Coke adds emotional resonance and contemporary context to mundane utility. The AI art codes remind consumers that magic can hide in plain sight when you see the world differently.
The creative application of AI across multiple Coke initiatives exemplifies marketing innovation that blends science and art. Coke will continue pushing boundaries not just with new technology but unexpected uses that bring delight and meaning.
Rather than AI for efficiency alone, Coke pursues AI’s latent capacity for inventiveness and inspiration when guided by human vision. The artistic QR codes symbolize Coke’s commitment to see technology’s poetry rather than just its practical applications.
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