Coke at the Olympics

The Coca-Cola Company has been associated with the Olympic Games for over eighty years and the partnership is building momentum. The company unveiled this year’s Olympic theme song: an atmospheric pop anthem called “Anywhere in the World,” produced by Mark Ronson and sung by Katy B – both UK artists.  Coca-Cola has released a video series chronicling Ronson’s international voyage as he built the track using sampled sounds from Olympic sports and athletes.  This video is only one of hundreds of “pieces of content” to be released by Coca-Cola as part of their Move To The Beat campaign for the Games—a massive step up from their involvement in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which consisted of just ten pieces of content, of which the most extensive were two sixty-second campaign videos.

Coca-Cola’s participation in the Olympics is emblematic of the company’s new marketing strategy towards young people. The strategy is focused on social media and narrative advertising that functions independently of the brand while strengthening its image.  Because music can be placed in different media and is easily transmitted via social networks, it has become an advertising Trojan horse. The inherent risk, acknowledged by Coke’s Global Advertising Manager Jonathan Mildenhall, is that there is less control over the campaign’s final results. As he says, “[the company has to be]…comfortable with the random nature of creative communication.”

Indeed, the current juncture seems more volatile and unpredictable. Top consumer brands are relying less on focus groups than before and this helps the music industry. Coke’s new partnerships with Spotify and Music Dealers are a case in point (see MBJ May 2012). Coca-Cola benefits from exposure to Spotify’s ten million Facebook-linked accounts, and saves outsourcing costs with Music Dealers. Moreover, Coca-Cola can help drive customers to each company with a mobile ad campaign worldwide. That campaign, according to one of its executives, is “the heart and foundation for London 2012, amplifying [our connection] with music”.

Fifteen years ago, this trio would have been an unlikely alliance. A top music distributor would have been proudly self-sufficient and marked its independence from any other commercial enterprise. Neither would an indie label and publisher come close to getting a sizeable investment for outsourcing vast quantities of music to the world’s best-known brand. But, as is suggested above, times are changing for Coke too—which helps the music citadel move along.

By Mical Klip



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