Coca-Cola launched its marketing campaign today for the London 2012 Olympics, introducing British music producer Mark Ronson as the creative linchpin of a global effort called "Move to the Beat" that will bring together music, youth and sport.
At an event held in the shadow of the new Olympic stadium in East London, Mr. Ronson was joined onstage by four of Coca-Cola's five up-and-coming athlete ambassadors.
Mr. Ronson is creating a music track that will tie together the whole marketing campaign around London 2012. He decided which Olympic events he thought created the most promising sounds, and Coca-Cola then found a young athlete from each of Mr. Ronson's chosen events and sports to join the campaign and work as an ambassador for 2012.
Claudia Navarro, Coca-Cola's Olympic marketing director, said that the 2012 campaign is very different from Coke's effort at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She said, "Stories don't live in one specific media. Last time, we made a TV commercial. This time we are telling stories. And mobile has an incredibly different role -- it means there's an interface with our stories any time, anywhere."
Mother , London, is creating a global spot around a live performance of the song by Mr. Ronson and British singer Katy B this week in front of a select audience of 1,000, including students and the young athlete ambassadors.
Ms. Navarro said, "We are using London's rich culture and diversity as a backdrop. We've partnered with Mark Ronson because he's someone special -- he's a London icon who can bring our creative vision to life. The athletes only met for the first time yesterday, but already they are buddies and are tweeting each other."
The Olympic campaign is in keeping with Coke's efforts to reach young people with global music efforts.
Mr. Ronson has been travelling around the world, working closely with each of the five athletes to record them in training and pick up sounds to use in the new track. The song, still unnamed, will be released in March 2012.
The Olympic hopefuls -- all young, confident and cool in the media spotlight -- are from around the world: Darius Knight , 21, is a U.K. table-tennis player; Kseniya Vdovina, 24, is a Russian runner; David Oliver, 29, is a U.S. hurdler; and Dayyan Jaffer, 17, is an archer from Singapore. The fifth, 23-year-old Mexican taekwondo star Maria Espinoza, was absent.
Although Ms. Espinoza won a gold medal in Beijing, Ms. Navarro said, "The athletes weren't chosen because they are gold medal hopefuls. They were chosen because of their smiles, the way they talk and because they are the right fit for Coca-Cola."
At the launch event, Mr. Ronson played examples of sounds he has been collecting. As well as obvious noises like a table-tennis paddle and an arrow hitting its target , he has some more unusual ideas. Ms. Vdovina, for instance, obligingly ran on a treadmill until her heart was beating exactly 120 times per minute -- the tempo of the song -- so that the sound of her heart can be incorporated into the track.
Mr. Knight 's grunts, which Mr. Ronson said reminded him of James Brown, and Ms. Espinoza's squeaks, also feature in the song. Coca-Cola is creating an hour-long documentary charting Mr. Ronson's global journey to create the track.
Ms. Navarro said "We will make [the documentary] available to all our markets and they will put it on TV, cinema, web, wherever."
As well as being released as a song, Mr. Ronson's work will provide the soundtrack for TV commercials, campaigns on mobile and other digital platforms, and Coca-Cola events during the Olympic Games.
"I was flattered to be asked," he said. "Coca-Cola has a great history of creating music, and everyone loves Coke. It was a no-brainer."
Talking about her inspiration when writing the song, Katy B said, "I thought about how I feel when I'm in London with friends and family, or at a festival or in the park."
Ms. Navarro said that the riots in London in August 2011 and Europe's ongoing financial crisis don't affect Coca-Cola's Olympic plans. "If anything it's made us more aware of the importance of the upbeat, optimistic message we are delivering," she said, "and the importance of the games in bringing people together."