Coca-Cola to use Olympics sponsorship to push non-fizzy drinks

Minute Maid is launching an Olympic campaign.

Coca-Cola will use its sponsorship of the Olympic Games to raise awareness of its non-fizzy drink brands in North America as part of its wider efforts to counter sliding sales of its fizzy drinks.

The effort champions five of its still brands – Vitaminwater, Minute Maid, Zico, Powerade and Core Power – and focuses on encouraging people to try them. By doing this, Coke hopes to strengthen its association to those less sugary alternatives, of which some might not be aware it offers.

To drive the association home, high profile Olympians have been brought in. For instance, Vitaminwater will work with soccer star Megan Rapinoe to encourages fans to showcase their “inner tryathlete” by asking them to post a video or photo of themselves on Instagram or Twitter doing something new. The best submissions will be awarded prizes including an all-expenses paid trip for four in February to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Elsewhere, Minute Maid is going down a more emotive path for its activation, focusing on the sacrifices parents make for their children. A film featuring Olympic gold medallist Missy Franklin (see below) encapsulates the theme, showing the athlete surprising her parents during a press conference by reading a heartfelt thank-you letter.

Ads for Coke’s Zico brand will play up its recent shift to 100 per cent not from coconut water with no sugar added, while the campaign for Core Power spotlights everyday people achieving personal health and wellness goals. Lastly, Powerade charts how athletes Claressa Shields, and Lopez Lomong and Shakur Stevenson have overcome adversity to put them on the road to Rio.

That Coke has opted to bring these drinks to the fore for the Olympics should come as little surprise given the situation the business finds itself in. Critics have called on Olympic chiefs to ban Coke from sponsoring the games due to what they believe is a clash with the event’s health and wellbeing ideals. While that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, according to the International Olympics Committee top marketer, there’s a more pressing commercial pressure on the business to perhaps switch-up its strategy for the games.

Sales have slumped for four consecutive quarters as people drink less fizzy drinks in established markets like North America and Europe. Consequently, the business has been trying to pivot sales around its still beverages. Last month, the business and its largest bottled acquired soy-based beverage maker AdeS from Unilever for $575m, giving it a strong presence in Latin America.

In stills, Coca-Cola is number one with around 15 per cent global share, according to the business. It also dominates the juice category with less than 20 per cent market share. As a result, the business believes there’s headroom for growth in both these growing segments.

However, this doesn’t mean the business will dial down marketing for its flagship fizzy brands. Ads for its still brands will run alongside the global #ThatsGold push that dovetails with the brand’s ‘Taste the Feeling” push, featuring 79 atheletes from 23 countries. A TV ad shows a montage of athletes’ gold medal moments mixed with footage of people experiencing everyday moments of excitement.

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