Coca-Cola takes inspiration from craft beer and pairs its drinks with food

Coca-Cola’s UEFA Euros 2016 sponsorship will see it experiment with a new marketing tact; suggesting recipes and meals that people could enjoy with a Coke.

Speaking at a British Retail Consortium event today (11 May), Leendert den Hollander, vice president and general manager, of Coca-Cola Enterprises explained that the brand landed on the idea after realising that 58 per cent of Brits will use the internet to search for recipe ideas.

While Coke has a dedicated page on its website looking at food trends and recipes from around the world, it's never made a concerted effort to establish the link between food and the soft drink with consumers.

During the Euros, Coke will target people during key moments with recipe suggestions for meals inspired by the cuisines of the teams playing during the tournament. For example, if England are playing it might give out the recipe for fish and chips. "It will be topical," hes promised, adding that it will sit within a wider campaign running across all touchpoints.

The food push will likely see Coke turn heavily to social media and encourage people to suggest their own recipes. Den Hollander said that the brand has finally come to terms with the fact that a marketer might only have control of 10 per cent of the content out there, with the other 90 per cent it's associated with being generated by consumers themselves.

“You have to accept that reality and tap into it to succeed,” he continued.

Pairing a drink product to food is something that alcohol brands have long relied on to move into new occasions. Last year, Budweiser-maker AB InBev launched mobile platform dedicated to inspiring people to forgo linking their favourite foods with wine and instead consider beer. Elsewhere, industry group ‘Britain’s Beer Alliance’- backed by the likes of Heineken, Molson Coors, and Carlsberg – recently extended the ‘There’s a beer for that’ campaign which allowed people to tweet their meal description to the group in return for a beer suggestion.

However, the soft drink sector has been a little later to this particular game. Coke’s decision to try it out during the Euros is evident that it’s still looking for new ways to talk to consumers in light of shifting consumption habits toward healthier drinks as well as mounting pressure on the food and drink industry to curb obesity

Den Hollander was quick to address Coke’s stance saying on the impending sugar tax, saying: “We’re not the cause of the obesity crisis but a solution.”

Regardless, in a seeming reaction to people’s increasing awareness of sugar and their changing tastes, Coke last year overhauled its marketing strategy to pull the four different brands under one marketing umbrella in the UK. The strategy was extended worldwide earlier this year.

With ambitions to generate more than 50 per cent of cola sales in Great Britain from lower and no calorie by 2020, the company realised that it needed to communicate the tastes of its lower sugar drinks.

Time will tell if using the Euros 2016 to tie the brand to food will continue to cement this ongoing transition in the minds of consumers.

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