Catching Up With: Coca-Cola marketing executive Scott McCune

Coca-Cola's Scott McCune says the company's "Move to the Beat" Olympic marketing campaign has been successful worldwide.
SHANA WITTENWYLER PHOTO
Scott McCune, Coca-Cola’s vice president, worldwide sports, entertainment and media, hadn’t attended a sports event five days into the Olympics. He was busy managing the company’s marketing in and around London; hosting Coke’s board, which flew in for the Olympics; tracking the company’s hospitality; and meeting with the International Olympic Committee. Despite his busy schedule, he has been closely monitoring the Games and last week sat down with staff writer Tripp Mickle to share his impressions.

How are organizers doing so far?

MCCUNE: They’re doing well. As always with an Olympics at the beginning, there were bumps on traffic and ticketing. I think the ticketing (empty-seat issue) is blown out of proportion. Not having been in a venue but watching on television, it’s primarily the press and IOC section where you see empty seats.

What does the IOC need to do to get a handle on Olympic tickets? It’s a recurring issue.

MCCUNE: We have so many things going on that I haven’t focused on the IOC.

How much angst did that create for sponsors when the first allegations were directed at them?

MCCUNE: We don’t like it when we get blamed for something when we don’t do anything wrong. We screw up enough things that we can be blamed for that we don’t like to be blamed for other people’s stuff. But people have to remember this is a culmination of 18 months of marketing in (Great Britain), and some countries a year of marketing, and in most countries at least six months of marketing.

McCune and ignition vice president Amanda Daniels during the Olympic Torch Relay, which Coke sponsored.
What markets are responding most positively to Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” Olympic marketing so far?


MCCUNE: You name it. I was at an event before the opening ceremony at the China House. Our China team was with the Chinese Olympic Committee celebrating the 200 million beats (songs created by visitors) that were uploaded (on Coca-Cola’s website) as part of the campaign. All of our major markets have taken the campaign and leveraged it, from the U.S. to Canada to Japan to Mexico.

You expressed concern in the spring that the Olympics aren’t appealing to youth. Are these Olympics doing anything to address that?

MCCUNE: One of the things we’re doing in partnership with the IOC is our marketing campaign is targeted to youth. We don’t have the results yet, but we’re seeing youth interact with our content. Our content is not Olympic content. It’s around the social side of things. It’s not the sport side of things.

What’s different about these Games from past ones you’ve attended?

MCCUNE: The venue of London. Because it was London it gave us the platform to focus on youth. Think about it. Most of the youth around the world, and I’m generalizing, have a very positive image of London, so if we can bring London to them and what Usain Bolt is mixing in the Athletes Village. Have you been in the Athletes Village? We actually have a beat studio with our athletes in there mixing their own beats.

You all faced some criticism before these Games along with McDonald’s for contributing to rising obesity. That was the first time I can recall that. Is that something we’ll see more in the future?

MCCUNE: No. We met with the IOC this past week. … They’re proud to have us as a partner. It’s just educating them on our products.

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