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This is The World's Cup: Coca-Cola digital chief Neil Bedwell discusses World Cup plans to put one million fans on the opening game pitch


By Stephen Lepitak | -

March 14, 2014 | 6 min read

Coca-Cola has begun its Brazil 2014 World Cup marketing campaign, with the aim of placing the pictures of one million football fans on a flag which will be unveiled before the opening game of this year’s tournament.

‘The World’s Cup’ campaign, will aim to tell the story of fans from all around the world as they prepare to watch the tournament, and highlight the power that football has to unite, according to Coca-Cola’s global group director of digital strategy and content, Neil Bedwell.

Speaking to The Drum, Bedwell relayed the strategy behind the creation of The World’s Cup, which he explained has been devised to tell different stories than those of other brands associated with the tournament. “We are telling a story about the world and giving everybody a little connection to Brazil. We have to prove this is The World's Cup though. we can't just say it. This World Cup is for everybody,” he stated.

The official World Cup trophy has already begun to tour the world, with countries such as Qatar, Napal and the earthquake zone of Japan all on the schedule, as the brand aims to surprise new communities who have never had the opportunity to see it, with stories being filmed along the way and released online in the coming months.

The first story has already run on YouTube, featuring members of the Brazilian blind football team being allowed to touch the official trophy, an honour usually reserved only for FIFA dignitaries and former winners of the trophy. “You are going to start to see a number of stories come out about the trophy appearing in the strangest places and reaching some of the most unlikely places and being seen and touched by people you wouldn't expect to usually get the chance to do that,” Bedwell explained.

The centrepiece of the build-up activity for Coca-Cola will be 'The Happiness Flag', being designed by Brazilian street artist Speto, who has also designed the brand’s packaging for the tournament, baring the pictures of one million fans, which will set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest mosaic, should it be achieved. by tweeting their photo using a country specific hash tag, through Facebook or through Coca-Cola’s website with entries having already begun to be accepted. “This is about fans getting something very real out of this,“ Bedwell stated. “If you can't be in Brazil, if you can't be in the stadium, we can give you a moment where you are on the pitch by sharing a picture with us through Facebook or Twitter.”He continued: “We are doing a lot of storytelling - like the Brazilian blind footballers, and then we are telling stories about fans from all over the world, almost every day on social media. We have a social news room and a creative analytics team that are charged with sharing these stories so that a fan in Germany gets to see what a fan in Japan looks like, thinks like and that's what the World's Cup is about- uniting fans and showing people using simple and ubiquitous technology to show fans that they are part of a much bigger thing than just supporting their club. They are part of a three billion-strong army of football fans and for those four weeks in June and July, everyone is doing the same thing.”The relaying of those stories will feature during the tournament as well. “In some countries it is 10 guys huddled around a small TV screen. In other countries it's people listening to the radio, but they are all doing the same thing. It's going to be quite something before that first ball is kicked. As that flag is opening just before the game, it is going to be the culmination of so much work and so many stories all coming together for that moment and we want to celebrate that moment. We want to give everyone a digital memento that they were on the pitch before the opening game of what is going to be the world's greatest social event as well as the world's greatest sporting event.”
Another platform that Coca-Cola has turned to in order to tell the fan’s story has been on Tumblr, having launched
its branded page just last week.“Tumblr is the place where we will tell the story. It's so beautifully visual. It will tell the journey to Brazil and every day we will try and push a new photo or new short video clip that shows another symbol of the World's Cup, whether it is fans with the trophy, a fan submitted photo for the flag, content around some of the characters of the films we are making. All of that, stitched together day after day counting down to the flag,” explains Bedwell who describes the plan as “probably the most integrated” that the company has ever had. “We are very proud of the numbers of countries that are involved. Football means the same to people all over the globe so we need to make sure that we give all of the countries enough flexibility to make it their own. [The activity] is not just about translation, it is about cultural changes so that it does really reflect how people celebrate in their country. They are all coming together to cheer on the games, but how they celebrate, there are cultural nuances to that and we need to allow that to happen. That's one of the great things about having one million photos - you start to dive into them and it's fascinating to see all the similarities and the differences around the people.”The World Cup Trophy is currently touring the UK this weekend, with events taking place in London, Cardiff and Glasgow over the next three days.

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