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Volume 21 No. 1
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Coke’s London legacy: Higher sales

With less than 100 days to go before the London Games, Coca-Cola executive Scott McCune set a lofty goal for the company’s Olympic marketing program.

“Our benchmark is that our annual report for 2010 said that the FIFA World Cup drove our business in the second and third quarter,” said McCune, Coca-Cola’s vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing. “I would love for our 2012 annual report to say the Olympic Games drove our business.”

The Beatbox in London’s Olympic Park drew an estimated 200,000 visitors.
The annual report won’t be released until next month, but results from this summer suggest the Olympics will be mentioned. Marketing around the London Games helped boost Coca-Cola’s case volume worldwide and reduced the company’s promotional expenses by more than $30 million in the third quarter.

The results came on the heels of the company’s largest, single marketing program around an Olympic Games. Coke, which spends $100 million every four years to sponsor the International Olympic Committee’s The Olympic Partner program, had 110 markets use its multiplatform “Move to the Beat” campaign featuring British producer Mark Ronson, who made a song from the sounds of Olympians training. The participation of 110 markets nearly doubled the 60 markets that activated around the 2008 Beijing Games.

Having one program with two commercials, a digital platform, a mobile app and other elements that were developed centrally by Coca-Cola and used regionally allowed markets to save money they typically would invest on marketing around the Olympics or other summer events. That saved the company an estimated $30 million of productivity, McCune said.

But the company didn’t just cut marketing costs during the Olympics. Coca-Cola also credited the Olympics with increasing case volume 5 percent in Latin America, 2 percent in North America and 1 percent in Europe. Those increases came despite uncertainty in the European and global economy. Markets that activated heavily such as Mexico, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, China and Japan saw significant increases in volume.

“Volume was up in the markets activating, and it was up more in the markets activating than the ones that didn’t,” said McCune, who shared Coca-Cola’s Olympic marketing results with its brand team earlier this month. “We also look at consumer metrics. Do we move people in Brazil from being monthly drinkers to weekly drinkers? Do we move weekly drinkers to daily drinkers? All of those were moving that direction, especially in emerging markets.”

McCune said Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” digital shorts, showing Ronson recording athletes training, generated 45 million views worldwide. The company created a mobile app called “My Beatmaker” that allowed people to record sounds and create their own song. A total of 3.3 million songs were created, which was up from the less than 1 million songs created during a similar promotion around the 2010 World Cup.

Coke at the Olympics

45 million views of video
3.3 million songs created
13 million spectators at the torch relay
1.25 million samples at the torch relay
18 million products served at the Olympics

Source: Coca-Cola

The company’s torch relay was one of its most successful in recent years. It estimated 13 million spectators turned out to see the relay as it wound its way through the United Kingdom over 70 days. Of the 13 million people who turned out, 1.25 million sampled Coca-Cola that was being given away. The company also sampled product at the Olympic Park where it had a “Beatbox” that told the story of Ronson creating the song. The “Beatbox” attracted an estimated 200,000 guests during the Games.

Coca-Cola supplemented its digital and on-site activities with a 30-minute TV show called “Beat TV” that was broadcast in 40 markets around the world. McCune described the TV show, which included 10, 30-minute episodes, as an experiment that was most effective in emerging media markets such as Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. The company hasn’t determined how many people viewed the shows.

The company’s Olympic marketing program around Ronson was aimed at youth, and a study done by The Variable Agency, which compiles data from consumer behavior online, estimated that close to 70 percent of the audience that engaged with Coca-Cola’s digital videos and mobile app were between the ages of 13 and 24. More than half of those that engaged were 13 to 17.

“The core strategy of recruiting teens and having one, central campaign around ‘Move to the Beat’ worked,” McCune said.

Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand, which activated around the Olympics for the first time, also saw increases in sales volume. The brand activated in 35 markets, and it saw an 11 percent increase in sales volume during the third quarter when it was promoting the Olympics.

During the 17 days of the London Games, Coca-Cola served 18 million products ranging from Sprite to Powerade to Vitaminwater.

“That’s pretty much in line with [past Olympics], but to be able to have that much in sales is not easy from an operations standpoint,” McCune said.