Cannes 2010: The Coca Cola story of happiness, celebration and football

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 24, 2010
Joseph V Tripodi, executive vice-president and chief marketing and commercial officer, The Coca Cola Company told the 'story' of the cola giant's global campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2010, which was launched in 160 countries

Who doesn't like to hear a good story? On the fourth day of the 57th International Advertising Festival 2010 in Cannes, Joseph V Tripodi, executive vice-president and chief marketing and commercial officer, The Coca Cola Company had an interesting story to share. He spoke about the cola giant's single global campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2010, which achieved massive, unprecedented scale.

Aptly titling the session, 'Coca Cola: Scale Meets Storytelling', Tripodi began by saying that he expected the company to double its service from 1.8 billion servings per day to 3.2 billion by 2020.

He quickly moved to the topic at hand, dividing his story of the World Cup campaign into four chapters.

The first chapter, titled 'Sit in the Stands' was about research, which, Tripodi said, began four years ago; and found many stereotypical notions that existed about Africa.

The company decided to speak to the South Africans about how they perceived the event. It found that the people saw it as a major platform to show the world the true nature of the region.

"We found a richer and deeper story. We found the story of optimism, the notion of introducing a modern Africa to the world. We needed to show this to the world. Africa is about colour, noise and chaos; and we had to find an authentic way of celebration," said Tripodi.

Thus began what could be called the largest experiential branding exercise. Coca Cola presented the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, where the actual trophy was taken across 84 countries of the world. The exercise, according to Tripodi, made the event more relevant and personal to people.

The second chapter, 'Soul to Soul' was about the Coca Cola anthem for the World Cup. The company chose the song, Waving Flag, by Somali-Canadian artist K'naan. A remixed version of the song was released as the anthem.

The song was written by K'naan, inspired by the time he was leaving Somalia as a child and saw numerous flags being waved together.

"We loved the song when we first heard it. The energy and optimism rang with us. It was bigger than a song. It was grounded in authenticity, honesty, and was emotional and magical. And when you put them all together, it is scalable," said Tripodi.

The song has already spawned 17 local language versions.

Tripodi then moved to the third chapter of his story - 'Dance'. The company zeroed in on Roger Milla, a former Cameroonian footballer. Milla was chosen for his unique style of celebrating a goal 20 years ago, when the tournament was held in Italy. "His authentic celebration spurred us on," said Tripodi.

When Coca Cola approached Milla, he seemed overwhelmed, because he had never been approached for a sponsorship offer during his playing career.

A television commercial was made with Milla, his two-decade old celebration style and how it has evolved over the years.

The idea inspired other activation. A documentary film has now been shot on goal celebration; and video game developers, EA Sports incorporated the celebration styles showed in the commercial in their football game.

Wanting a sustainable model, the company also designed a charitable campaign for clean water in African schools around the idea of celebration. "This platform allowed us to link heavily with our dealers," Tripodi said.

People across countries were also invited to upload their own celebration videos on a YouTube channel.

"The big lesson from this exercise was that content has great value, when you have the right partners. That is scaling," said Tripodi.

The final chapter, 'Agencies in a Room' was about the 11 agencies involved in designing the campaign. "We were all media agnostic and everyone focused on celebration and happiness," Tripodi said.

"What did it get us? Here was one campaign launched in 160 countries that was compelling, emotional, authentic, efficient, and left a lasting legacy," he added. While he said that it was too early to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign, he was sure that everything is moving in a positive direction.

The major lessons from the campaign, he said, were that there was no shortcut to the big idea; collaboration makes everyone better; and one does not have to sacrifice authenticity for scale, as both are complementary.

"Connect emotionally with people. Find the heart of the story. Find your own celebration," concluded Tripodi.

© 2010 afaqs!