ANALYSIS: Coke's Local World Cup Tactics - Coca-Cola Has Created 25 Ads around One Event. Daniel Rogers Finds out What's Behind the Strategy Change

Marketing, May 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

ANALYSIS: Coke's Local World Cup Tactics - Coca-Cola Has Created 25 Ads around One Event. Daniel Rogers Finds out What's Behind the Strategy Change


There has been endless analysis of the advertising strategy of the world's best-known brand - principally whether it's thinking 'global' or 'local' at any point in time.

But the best insight into Coca-Cola's approach is provided by the ads that appear on our TV screens - from Islington to Istanbul.

In this sense, Coke's massive World Cup campaign provides a fascinating freeze-frame of its latest thinking.

You may have seen the ugly, animated star of the UK ad campaign, 'Leggsy', dribbling his way to World Cup glory. If you have, you will have realised that this is one ad that was definitely not born at Coke's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

This distinctive piece of work, designed to appeal to the ironic and surreal British sense of humour, was actually made in Amsterdam, by Wieden & Kennedy. Not only that, but it was produced by a French animation company called Partisan, with a soundtrack by British underground band The Backyard Dogs.

Look to TV sets in continental Europe and you will find an array of commercials.

One, created by McCann-Erickson Italy, features a bustling Roman marketplace.

Go further afield and you will come across an emotional Turkish TV ad, which shows two kids stringing red and white light bulbs throughout the tower blocks of Ankara, which light up the city in the team's colours.

There's even a special World Cup TV ad for the Netherlands - which scandalously failed to reach the tournament this time around - showing Dutch star Ruud Van Nistelroy quietly mowing his lawn while the drama unfolds in Japan and South Korea.

Local tailoring

In the last World Cup in 1998, Coke produced just one global ad called 'For the fans' by Wieden & Kennedy. Although it is using a re-edited version of that ad this time around, it is augmenting it with around 25 commercials specifically tailored to local markets.

'We simply haven't been this diverse before,' says Nastia Orkina, who as group marketing services manager is responsible for co-ordinating Coca-Cola's pan-European World Cup efforts. 'Previously it's been a big event advertisement and some vertical stuff. McCann-Erickson in the US would probably have done everything. But this time the national ads have been created after researching local attitudes to the World Cup around the world.'

So why has Coke gone to such extraordinary lengths to create TV ads for each nation? Partly because Coke now recognises the World Cup as the single most powerful media event that it 'owns'.

Chuck Fruit, Coke's senior vice-president worldwide media and alliances, says: 'For so many of our countries, soccer is the foundation of their marketing efforts, so the World Cup is the crowning element of a broad-based plan.'

And as UK marketing director Charlotte Oades points out, the brand believes it now has the pedigree to wring every last emotional drop out of the competition.

'We have been supplying drinks since the Uruguay tournament in 1930 and producing specific World Cup ads for over 20 years,' she says. 'We understand the passion of the World Cup like no other brand and can make our advertising relevant to fans, who are changing.'

She is right. Football fans have changed. …

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