Behind the Scenes at Coca-Cola's Sponsorship Activities at Sochi and Brazil's FIFA World Cup
April 09, 2014
In connecting its soft drinks with sports mega-events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola populates its marketing messages with those events and ordinary people rather than celebrities, emphasized Peter Franklin '83. The Isenberg accounting graduate is Coca-Cola's Group Director for Worldwide Sports and Event Management. In an open presentation at Isenberg on April 2nd, with many in the audience from the school's Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management, Franklin shared a behind-the-scenes look at his company's sponsorship activities for the Sochi Winter Olympics and the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
At Coca-Cola, Franklin 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 allies. In these initiatives, Franklin, who also has MBA and J.D. degrees from Duke University, holds ultimate responsibility for marketing and promotion, negotiation and due diligence of alliances and operations, scenario planning, on-site execution of programs, and hospitality for his company's guests at the events.
Recalling Sochi, Franklin noted the challenges of creating a presence at the Games that included installing extensive exhibits, including 40,000 pieces of equipment, and serving 5 million drinks to 200,000 people. He described the complexities of hosting 1,200 guests in hotels and employing 800 people on-site, many of them subject to Russian labor laws. He described incidents of ambush marketing by competitors and political fallout in the wake of Russia's newly passed law banning the advocacy of homosexuality. And he recounted his company's sponsorship of a 120-day Olympic torch relay across Russia that exposed 20 million Russians to the Coca-Cola brand.
Onward to Brazil. Turning to Brazil, Franklin shared some of his team's plans for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which begins on June 12. At the heart of Coca-Cola's integrated marketing strategy, he noted, is its core creative idea-"Coke Is Everyone's Drink,"-which ties the brand to the event. The concept draws on deep cultural waters in Brazil, which considers itself soccer's spiritual home and values soccer as the people's sport. (In a brilliant stoke, the company has hired a street artist to create the visual identity that graces its communications.) The concept and subsequent marketing also captures Brazil's multiculturalism, optimism, and youthful exuberance.
Soccer's populism, Franklin emphasized, is, in fact, a worldwide phenomenon that transfers seamlessly to global marketing. To that end, the FIFA cup trophy tour embarked last summer in the conspicuously branded Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup Tour jet. At the time of Franklin's visit to Isenberg, the cup had visited 90 countries and had been raised in the hands of 50 heads of state. During the tour, media production teams from Coca-Cola have been capturing the exuberance of a world in love with soccer, including impromptu sandlot games among children. The tour, exulted Franklin, is the largest experiential marketing initiative in the company's history. When you consider Coca-Cola's long-time status as the planet's most recognizable brand, that is truly saying something.