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Music and Marketing

How Coke Teaches the World to Sing

Local-Artist Partnerships for FIFA, Sochi Anthems Continue Beverage Giant's Musical Legacy

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It was back in the 1970s that Coca-Cola first announced it would "Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)." That campaign launched an association with global music that has remained high on the beverage giant's marketing agenda ever since.

With two huge sporting events lined up for 2014 -- the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil -- Coca-Cola is combining global marketing goals with local efforts, by working with artists from the country where the events are taking place. It will then reinterpret the songs to make them relevant to individual countries.

For example, for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Coca-Cola is using talent with local connections for its new song, "The World is Ours." X Factor finalist David Correy, who re-connected with his Brazilian mother on the show, teamed up with producer Mario Caldato to record the song.

Joe Belliotti, global music director for Coca-Cola, said the "five-note melody," the tell-tale "happy sound" that first appeared in the "Open Happiness" campaign in 2009, is the starting point for all of Coke's musical work. The brand, he said, also looks for artists that embody an "optimistic" sound.

For the FIFA World Cup, he looked around and found that there wasn't a lot of Brazilian sound in popular music. And since the event is happening in Brazil, it was an "opportunity for Coke to bring that to the world, and bring the world closer to Brazil." He began with Rio percussion group Monoblanco, and then convinced the Brazilian-born Mr. Caldato to "translate" the sound for international markets. The ensuing rhythm is an amalgamation of sound, from samba, to ballet funk, to techno brega.

The FIFA World Cup trophy is touring 95 destinations in 86 countries, and Mr. Correy will be performing in "quite a few" of those countries, as well as appearing on local media, in an effort to connect with young audiences.

Coca-Cola's is planning on a global rollout of "The World is Ours," creating versions in different languages, often using talent with whom the beverage giant already has a relationship.

Mr. Belliotti said, "Football is a very emotional sport. People are passionate about it and about music. The soundtrack helps the marketing connect with the audience and brings people to the event who might not be as passionate about football. We will also be leveraging our Spotify partnership at different moments, although Spotify is not in all the countries."

Coca-Cola has also signed up local Russian talent to create an anthem for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia, with a message encouraging people to come together for the event. The two artists -- rapper Levan "L'One" Gorozia and pop singer Vika Kotorova -- are not known outside the host country and are still working to create the final version of the song.

Joshua Burke, VP-global account director at Music Dealers, an international music licensing agency that works with Coca-Cola, said, "The artists will perform on the torch relay at Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi. The campaign is focused on Russia, and it's all about togetherness -- Sochi is such a small place, we wanted to build the campaign and get everyone in Russia excited. We are also looking at bringing in more outside collaboration and maybe bringing in a consumer remix to bring people together on a more emotional level."

Eric Sheinkop, CEO and co-founder of Music Dealers, said, "The focus is to get it right in Russia and then to get it right in the rest of the world. We usually keep the emotional relevance by bringing in local artists that consumers have a connection with, not a global pop star. It's a song that's built to travel and get you moving."

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