How Rain Almost Spoiled Jordan Spieth's Debut for Coke

The Brand Planned a Sunny Shoot, Until the Storm Clouds Came

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After signing Jordan Spieth to a multiyear endorsement deal in January, Coca-Cola executives began plotting a TV spot showing the golfer enjoying an icy Coke on a hot day on the golf course. Until a whole lotta rain got in the way.

The brand and agency Wieden & Kennedy Portland were forced to remake the ad concept on the fly because Mother Nature would not cooperate. The original shoot on a Texas golf course scheduled in April was canceled because of rain. When brand executives tried to squeeze another shoot into Mr. Spieth's busy schedule, they were once again doomed by a forecast that called for 100% rain.

So the brand and agency improvised. The result is an ad that portrays the golfer making trick shots inside a trailer as he waits for a rain delay to end. The spot is being released today on Coke's social channels. A 60-second version will run on TV on Saturday during Fox's coverage of the U.S. Open.

"It was a very high stress environment," Peggy Loos, VP of connections activation for Coca-Cola North America, said in an interview discussing the shoot. "We literally walked in on that shoot day not sure which concept we were shooting. Everyone was monitoring the weather hour-by-hour. Since it was very dark and gloomy we decided to go with the second concept that had just been created within the last 36 hours."

She added: "It was very unique for us to walk in making real-time decisions with both our celebrity talent athlete as well as what our concept would be."

Here's the kicker: In the middle of the shoot -- when Coke was now hoping for rain -- the rain stopped. So "Wieden & Kennedy had to bring in rain towers to create the rain for that part of the shot," Ms. Loos said.

The spot begins with him taking a swig of a Coke. Then he promptly chips a ball inside a hole carved from ice left by a Coke bottle inside a bucket of Cokes. Putting the soda at the center of ads is a hallmark of the brand's "Taste the Feeling" campaign that broke in January.

Mr. Spieth's competitive streak came through during the shoot. The production team only had a four-hour window to shoot the ad. To save time, the team suggested that they could show the bucket shot hitting its mark using some post-production trickery. But Mr. Spieth "was intent that he was going to make that shot into the bucket," Ms. Loos said. And he did. Here is a behind-the-scenes look:

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Production agencies handling the ad are RSA Films and Framestore. The soundtrack is Missy Elliott's "The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly]."

Coca-Cola North America made a major investment in the rising golf star with the multiyear deal that was announced in January. The pact calls for him to appear in TV commercials and on packaging, as well in digital campaigns, outdoor ads and in-store marketing.

Mr. Spieth will also be featured in Coke's Olympic marketing, including on Olympic-themed packaging. He is expected to participate in the Rio games. But like other athletes he is monitoring the Zika virus situation in Brazil, according to a report this week on golfchannel.com. "I think being an Olympian is just an absolute tremendous honor," he said. "Do I think being an Olympian outweighs any significant health threat? No. If I thought that the threat was significant, I certainly would not go."

Asked if Coke was concerned about Mr. Spieth bypassing the games, Ms. Loos referenced a call the marketer recently had with the chief of security at NBC, which is broadcasting the games. "The headline was we have a greater chance of getting Zika in Florida and Georgia during this time because it will be Brazil's winter. At this point we are confident. I can't speak to [Mr. Spieth's] personal feeling, but we feel good about it."

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