The Olympics

#ThatsGold: See Coke's Olympics Ads

Global Campaign Will Run in More Than 50 Markets

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Coca-Cola's global Olympics campaign uses footage of 79 athletes from 23 countries across a variety of sports, from swimming to badminton. But the cola giant is putting as much emphasis on bubbly soda-closeups and bottle shots as it is on gold medal moments.

The approach puts a sporting stamp on the product-first marketing strategy that Coke initiated in January with the "Taste the Feeling" campaign. The Olympic campaign uses that tagline and anthem but adds the line "#ThatsGold." Two TV spots mix footage of Olympic competition with everyday moments, like a young couple diving into a pool and kissing under water.

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"We cannot ignore that this is a competition about winning and there are medals," said Rodolfo Echeverria, VP of global creative for Coca-Cola Co. "But also there is a lot of gold to be found beyond the podium." And in that vein, the campaign aims to capture "moments of joy, uplift and refreshment," he said. Coke has prioritized simple pleasures in its marketing ever since shelving the higher-minded "Open Happiness" campaign in January.

Ogilvy & Mather Brazil is the lead agency on the Olympic campaign. The Miami office of David assisted on versions of the spots created for North America.

An outdoor ad from Coca-Cola's Olympics campaign.
An outdoor ad from Coca-Cola's Olympics campaign. Credit: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola, which has sponsored Olympic games going back to 1928, will air the ads in more than 50 markets. The TV ads will begin airing in the U.S. on Aug. 5 during the Opening Ceremony.

Coke shot new footage of 24 athletes, ranging from British sprinter Jodie Williams to Canadian Badminton player Michelle Li. The brand also secured the rights to use stock footage of at least an additional 55 athletes. Local markets will tailor their own ads. TV spots geared for North America give more attention to U.S. athletes, including soccer star Alex Morgan, track and field athlete Ashton Eaton and swimmer Nathan Adrian. Limited edition packaging will include silhouette-style images of athletes in action.

A large outdoor component of the campaign will feature shots of Olympians that were taken during two separate photo shoots: one in Los Angeles for U.S. athletes and another in Barcelona for global athletes.

And Coke is planning two big experiential marketing events on the ground in Rio during the games. One venue in Olympic Park is designed for people who have tickets to Olympic events. It will include product sampling and retail.

At another venue in the Praca Maua area of Rio, Coke is hosting what it calls The Coca-Cola Station for people who don't necessarily have tickets. Teenagers are the primary target. Attractions include a "liquid immersion experience where teens can step inside a Coca-Cola bottle," as well as opportunities to take 360-degree photos with the Olympics torch, according to a company statement.

The venue will also act as a hub for the brand to use social media to disseminate content collected at the games by several celebrities. They include 19-year-old Australian singer Cody Simpson and his 18-year-old sister Alli, YouTube stars the Jake Boys, 20-year-old Canadian actress Allie Evans and Brazilian social media star Lucas Rangel, who has 2.7 million Instagram followers.

Coke's plans also include major events for employees, business-to-business customers, consumers and bottlers. The company is prepping the events amid negative media reports about a range of issues plaguing Brazil, including the Zika virus, economic woes, crime and political turmoil. The Zika situation has led to some athletes dropping out of the games, including Coke endorser Jordan Spieth, who had been scheduled to be a part of North American Olympic marketing plans.

Despite those woes, Coke is expecting big turnouts at its events. The company is prepared to host 5,000 to 6,000 people a day at the Olympic Park venue. And demand for the events for employees, customers and business partners is strong, said Peter Franklin, group director of worldwide sports at Coca-Cola. "The only problem at this point is we are oversubscribed," he said. "I was expecting that we would have a drop off and we really haven't."

Coca-Cola Co.'s Olympic marketing doesn't stop at its flagship. Its Powerade brand is introducing a campaign called "Blue Bloods" that was created by the Argentina office of David. Ads draw parallels between medieval knights and modern athletes.

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Coca-Cola-owned Core Power high protein milk shake has an endorsement deal with gymnastics star Simone Biles. Minute Maid is running ads featuring swimmer Missy Franklin. Vitaminwater is running a social media contest that stars soccer player Megan Rapinoe. And Zico coconut water is running digital ads starring diver David Boudia and soccer player Ali Krieger.

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