Current Profession: Group Director for Worldwide Sports and Event Management
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
“In connecting Coca-Cola and its soft drinks with sports mega-events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, our marketing messages emphasize the events themselves and ordinary people rather than celebrities,” notes Peter Franklin ’83. The Isenberg accounting graduate is Coca-Cola’s Group Director for Worldwide Sports and Event Management. In that role, he leads a team that creates and executes strategic marketing and manages on-site delivery for sponsorships with the Olympics (since 1928), FIFA (since the 1950s), the NBA, the NCAA, NASCAR, the Special Olympics, and other high-profile venues.
In these initiatives, Peter, who also has MBA and J.D. degrees from Duke University, holds ultimate responsibility for marketing and promotion, and negotiations and due diligence for alliances and operations. He also oversees scenario planning, the on-site execution of programs, and hospitality for his company’s guests at the events. Peter frequently draws on his Isenberg accounting background and his subsequent experience in law and general business. “The ability to negotiate and handle due diligence,” he says—“that’s my unique skill.”
For Peter, Coca-Cola’s sizeable footprint at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi entailed installing elaborate exhibits, including 40,000 pieces of equipment, and serving 5 million drinks to 200,000 people. “We hosted 1,200 guests in hotels and employed 800 people on-site, many of them subject to Russian labor laws,” he recalls. “And we sponsored a 120-day Olympic torch relay across Russia that exposed 20 million Russians to the Coca-Cola brand.”
Six months later, Coca-Cola had an equally strong presence at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. “The heart of our marketing strategy,” notes Peter, “emerged from the core creative idea—Coke Is Everyone’s Drink.” The concept drew on deep cultural waters in Brazil, which considers itself soccer’s spiritual home and values soccer as the people’s sport. “Our subsequent marketing also captured Brazil’s multiculturalism, optimism, and youthful exuberance.”
A FIFA cup trophy tour embarked in the summer of 2013 in a conspicuously branded Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup Tour jet, which at the time of Franklin’s visit with Isenberg’s students last April, had touched down in 90 countries. Fifty heads of state, he added, had held the trophy. “The tour,” exults Peter, “was the largest experiential marketing initiative in our history.” When you consider Coca-Cola’s perennial status as the planet’s most recognizable brand, that is truly saying something.