Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 214
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

A Coke & A Virtual Smile: Soft Drink Company To Have Presence In "FIFA 18"

Coca-Cola will sponsor its first-ever virtual athlete in a deal with EA Sports to have a major presence in "FIFA 18," the next edition of the game set for a Sept. 29 release. The game last year introduced “The Journey,” a mode that allows you to play as “Alex Hunter,” a 17-year-old soccer phenom, as he develops into a EPL star. In this year’s edition, Hunter encounters career growing pains as he considers a transfer out of the EPL, and he also signs a deal with Coca-Cola. In one scene in the game, Hunter shoots a commercial for Coca-Cola that re-enacts the classic '79 Mean Joe Greene spot, replacing the jersey toss with a fan selfie. Coca-Cola will promote the tie-in with cans featuring Hunter’s likeness sold at 7-Eleven and Wal-Mart in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Those cans will include codes allowing the user to unlock additional game content. Coca-Cola will also put Hunter’s image on its sign in Times Square when the game launches. The campaign will run through the ’18 World Cup. Coca-Cola VP/Entertainment, Ventures & Strategic Alliances Matt Wolf said, “It’s a pretty interesting milestone for us as a company, and I really feel like it’s a really interesting step for us as we start to speak to younger generations and really embrace the future of what media and content.” Coca-Cola Senior Entertainment Marketing Manager Alban Dechelotte said a virtual star allows a sponsor to sidestep some of the challenges inherent in real-life sports. “Some fans may prefer one club, some other fans might prefer another club," he said. "It’s difficult for a brand for us to choose, because we don’t want to alienate anyone. But everyone is Alex.” Out of the 20 million global people who play "FIFA," about 15 million engaged with the narrative feature in the ’17 edition, and 34% completed it, said EA Creative Dir Matt Prior.

THE PLAYERS' CLUB: The deal is notable because it is aimed at "FIFA 18" players themselves rather than at spectators of pro esports competitions, an important distinction as investment dollars flow into esports teams and other pro properties. Wolf said the "FIFA" integration should be seen as an addition to, not instead of, esports sponsorships. “We’re still passionate about that, we still recognize that’s important, but this is another piece of that, and it fits in so well with our football DNA that it makes perfect sense,” Wolf said.