Coke’s latest flavor is here. And it’s a weird one

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

Now the company is one-upping itself with another offbeat offering: Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, a new flavor that is 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 bright elements upfront and refreshing with the finish,” she said.

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

The company decided to discontinue half of its portfolio a few years ago, dropping some outdated but beloved drinks including Tab.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

That means coming up with creative, limited-time flavors and rolling out intriguing marketing campaigns to promote them. It also means letting customers puzzle over what some of these new flavors actually taste like.

The reaction to Starlight has been very good, according to Vlad. “We are seeing lots 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 the flavor descriptions offers an opportunity for debate and discussion.”

In other words, the weird flavors are inspiring some buzz.

Beverages launched by Coca-Cola creations are also served up with marketing campaigns that cater to customers who love to be online. The push for “Starlight,” for example, featured a holographic concert by pop star Ava Max which could be accessed by a QR code on the drink’s label.

With “Byte” it’s all about gaming.

Appealing to gamers

“Byte” existed online before it did in real life: The product appeared globally in late March on an island in the video game Fortnite. 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 which takes place inside a classic glass Coke bottle.

Once customers get their hands on a can of Byte in the real world, they’ll be able to play an augmented reality game by scanning the pixelated label with their phones.

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

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

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

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