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The latest flavor of Coke is here.  And it’s weird


Last month, Coca-Cola announced a new limited-edition drink: Coca-Cola Starlight, a red version of the iconic soda with a “space-inspired” flavor.

Now the company is stepping out with another quirky offering: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, a new flavor that’s supposed to taste like…pixels.

“Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte makes the intangible taste of the pixel tangible,” Oana Vlad, senior director of strategy at Coca-Cola, told CNN Business in an email. It’s “the Coca-Cola taste you know and love with elements that are bright ahead and refreshing at the end,” she said.

Byte is the second drink – after Starlight – from Coca-Cola Creations, the company’s new innovation division.

The company decided to cut half of its portfolio a few years ago, dropping some outdated but beloved drinks, including Tab. Since then, the soda giant has focused on promoting its flagship product, Coke.

This means delivering limited-time creative flavors and rolling out marketing campaigns to promote them. It also means leaving customers wondering what some of these new flavors actually taste like.

The reaction to Starlight has been very good, according to Vlad. “We are seeing a lot of discussion and speculation about its mysterious space flavor,” she said.

“Our fans are intrigued – they love the playful novelty,” she added. “The abstract nature of flavor descriptions provides an opportunity for debate and discussion.”

In other words, weird flavors inspire a certain buzz.

The drinks launched by Coca-Cola Creations are also served with marketing campaigns that cater to customers who enjoy being online. The push for “Starlight,” for example, featured a holographic concert by pop star Ava Max that could be accessed by a QR code on the the drink label.

With “Byte”, everything revolves around the game.

Attract players

“Byte” existed online before it did in real life: the product appeared in the world at the end of March on an island in the Fortnite video game. The island, named Pixel Point, was created by Coca-Cola and its partner PWR, which creates virtual experiences within Fortnite.

Players who arrive at Pixel Point can play different games, including one that takes place inside a classic glass Coke bottle.

Once customers get their hands on a real-world box of Byte, they can play an augmented reality game by scanning the pixelated label with their phone.

Beverage brands have long advertised directly to gamers, but with more companies jumping on the bandwagon, the competition is heating up.

“We think it’s important to be present in the spaces where gamers play,” Vlad said, noting that “Coca-Cola has a long history of supporting the gaming community.” The company has a partnership with video game developer Riot Games.

US customers can purchase Byte online starting May 2 while supplies last. The flavor is only available in a sugar-free two-pack in the US, which costs around $15 plus shipping. “Byte” will be available for sale in select Latin American countries on Monday, and in China on May 23.

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