Coca-Cola’s Sponsorships

Since our speaker today is Scott Williamson, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Coca-Cola and our topic of discussion for this week is sponsorships, what better theme for this blog post could there be than the history of Coca-Cola’s sponsorships? They’ve had a long history of sponsorships. Coca-Cola’s most widely known sponsorships are American Idol, the BET network, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA, and the Olympic games.

Coca-Cola has been with American Idol from the beginning and has sponsored all ten seasons. In 2011 they sponsored American Idol in a different way. They partnered with the Regal Entertainment Group, the motion picture exhibitor operating the world’s largest theatre group, to create the “Picture You and a Friend at the American Idol Finale” sweepstakes. They’ve also created a contest to see which fan can design the best “Coca-Cola Judges Cup Design.” The winning prize is their design on the judges’ cup on an episode of American Idol and they get to attend an American Idol broadcast. I’ve never specifically noticed the Coca-Cola cups on the judges’ table, but they’re quite blatantly there.

The Judges' Table at American Idol

Coca-Cola also created a “Perfect Harmony” campaign which encouraged fans to write lyrics to a new song sung by Taio Cruz. Watch this commercial for the campaign that shows how thoroughly American Idol and Coke are combined:

Coca-Cola’s sponsorship relationship with the NBA has been around a lot longer. Coca-Cola has been a marketing partner of the NBA since 1986. Just a year ago Coke extended their global marketing sponsorship. Specific sponsorship tactics include that Sprite has been the Official Soft Drink of the NBA since 1994. Coke also sponsors “Sprite Slam Dunk,” Contest and they even have a Sprite amateur slam dunk contest. At the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, they increased their interaction with the audience by asking them to text them their vote for who was the best dunker.

This video of the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest shows just how much the Contest is covered in Sprite:!

Coca-Cola also has a sponsorship deal with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), where it has been an Official Corporate Champion since 2002. Coca-Cola Zero is the official fan refreshment of the NCAA. This has great impact since the NCAA has 1,000 member schools. Also, Powerade is the official sports drink. The promotion for Powerade is huge, as it is featured on the sidelines of 88 Championship games, encompassing 23 sports and 360,000 student athletes. Watch this commercial to learn more about this sponsorship:

The Olypmic Games is probably the most impressive sponsorship Coke has in its history. Coke is the longest continual corporate partner of the Olympic Games. Coke was first present in the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, and has been involved almost an entire century since. For the upcoming Olypmic Games in London, Coke created a special commemorative bottle featuring the photography of Rankin. The picture on the bottle is one hand passing a white rose to another hand, symbolizing the passing off of the Olypmic Games from Beijing to London. Rankin is a leading London photographer. They’ve also created a “future flames” campaign where they are taking nominations for someone to run with the Olympic torch. Watch this video:

As you can see from the above examples, Coca-Cola has successfully mastered the creative, not-overused sponsorships. Through their use of campaigns and sponsorships, Coca-Cola does an incredible job of keeping the audience and the consumers of their products involved with the company. Through both its advertising and sponsorships, Coke has made itself a part of everyday life.
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Here’s a little extra about Coke [since we all know my interest lies in design]: I’ve always been interested in seeing the progression of their package design, since the coke bottle has been around for what seems like an eternity. The best link I could find on this topic is here:

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