The world’s largest beverage company stepped up its already robust event efforts in 2011, the company’s milestone 125th year.
Coca-Cola has a long history of aligning its brand with messages of happiness and hope, sustainability and community. In 2011, the soft drink purveyor marked its 125th year by kicking its messaging into even higher gear.
In May, the brand hosted a festival at Pemberton Place in Atlanta, where employees and their families participated in an array of hands-on activities, such as assembling American Red Cross disaster-relief kits. During the festival, the company also hosted an anniversary celebration concert—hosted by Ryan Seacrest with performers including Kelly Clarkson—that was streamed online globally as a live thank-you to fans and integrated into a broad array of social media.
The brand operates in more than 200 countries, and additional anniversary events featured days of service for company associates to help the local communities and the kickoff of a series of sustainability initiatives in Kenya. The celebration also included the grand opening of a World of Coca-Cola exhibition in Russia showing elements of the company’s history, and sponsorship of the Harare International Festival of Arts in Zimbabwe, bringing together more than 140 artists from around the globe and more than 1,000 local artists.
The brand also added the new Coca-Cola Music program. The beverage has worked music into its marketing for a century and in 2011 coalesced those efforts into the new program that provides opportunities for teens around the world to connect with music, the brand, and each other. All events have some form of interactivity or social media attached. For instance, the Coca-Cola 24-Hour Session set up Maroon 5 in a recording studio in London to write and record a new song in the span of one day and night. Fans sent their personal messages to the band via social media, and the whole event was streamed live, with 355,000 consumers watching from 139 countries.
As part of a launch for the London 2012 Olympics sponsorship campaign, the brand hosted an event in London that doubled as the filming of its global television commercial. Onstage, Olympic hopefuls enacted their sports, which the DJ Mark Ronson used as inspiration for a track he created for the campaign. Ronson also performed.
Turning 125 also brought an array of new fashion associations. Coca-Cola was on the runway in January for the 2011 Dolce & Gabbana show in Milan, with the fashion house licensing the beverage brand to put on its men’s clothing line. Other partnerships included a collection by Jack Spade and a presence at Diffa Dining by Design in New York, where the brand created an installation completely from recycled materials, including a dome made of recycled glass.
“The milestone appeals to retail partners because it becomes topical and newsworthy,” said group director of global brand public relations Judith Snyder of the new fashion affiliations. “It’s a very deliberate strategy by our licensing team to pursue these kinds of aspirational brand partnerships.”
The concept for the brand’s global events begins with an integrated marketing team based in Atlanta. As the brand continues to innovate in the global events sphere, so too is it seeing dominant financial results: Through 2011, the Coca-Cola Company once again met or exceeded long-term growth targets and gained volume and value share in its beverage categories—led by its namesake product.