Coca-Cola’s glass bottle turns 100 and parties with Microsoft’s #HowOldRobot

The Coca-Cola bottle turned 100 last week, and it’s starting to look its age.

Coca-Cola teamed up with Microsoft’s “How-Old” facial recognition site to celebrate the centennial anniversary of its vintage contoured bottle by making it the first inanimate object recognized by the tool. The brand wants users to upload a photo of an old-timey glass Coke bottle to in exchange for a surprise: The image-recognition software displays the “age” of the bottle as 100 years old, as the page turns red.

“Microsoft captivated our collective imagination with this technology, and it was an easy leap to connect it to the Coca-Cola bottle anniversary we’ve been celebrating this year,” said Simon Cowart, global social media strategist at Coca-Cola. “We saw a unique opportunity to engage our fans in a great experiential brand moment.”

It all began when a group of Coca-Cola marketers in Kazakhstan was fascinated by the #HowOldRobot, and approached Microsoft and McCann Worldgroup to explore a possible collaboration. Microsoft’s engineers accepted the challenge and started developing the idea. Microsoft has found a way to not only display the age of the Coke bottle but also the person holding it in the case of selfies.

“This is a great example of collaboration across our agency offices and brand teams,” said Adrian Botan, global executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup. “It proves that creativity knows no borders in this day and age: This idea originated in our Almaty office, was identified at a European level, and we decided to pitch it globally to both our Coca-Cola and Microsoft teams.”

The #HowOldRobot website that went viral this past summer for telling users how old they looked just by analyzing their photos. It spread rapidly on Twitter and Facebook feeds when it was first unveiled in May this year, with over 35,000 users visiting the page from all over the world within a few hours. According to Microsoft, more than 575 million images have been uploaded to the site in just six months.

“We had to build a new machine learning model that could recognize Coca-Cola bottles,” said Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft Data Group. “There were two parts to getting this done right: to recognize the Coca-Cola logo and the unique glass contour bottles the logo appears on.”

To ensure the campaign is a success, users are being prompted to share their results on social media with the hashtag #CokeBottleBirthday. Coca-Cola employees are themselves posting selfies of themselves with Coca-Cola bottles.

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