Marketing and Sponsorship

Coca-Cola skipping Olympics campaign, sitting out Super Bowl again

Coca-Cola is still expected to have a presence at the Beijing Games, but the brand is expected to be absent on TVGETTY IMAGES

Coca-Cola “will not run a global campaign” during the Beijing Games, in a year in which will “sit out” the Super Bowl for the second straight season, according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. In a statement, the company indicated it would “instead prioritize” sporting events taking place later this year: “We remain focused on bringing moments of Real Magic to life for our fans nationwide including a significant activation with Coke Zero Sugar for NCAA March Madness as well as experiences with Nascar, among others.” Coca-Cola is “still expected to have a presence” at the Olympics, but the brand is “expected to be absent on TV.” A-Mark Partnership Strategies CEO Jim Andrews said in response Coke's Olympic approach, “There is just really no hype whatsoever coming from the sponsors.” For Coke, it is "not unprecedented to take a lower profile" at the Winter Games compared to Summer, but its TV absence this Olympiad “is still noticeable.” Coke “must also contend” with the reality that its primary competition, Pepsi, “consumes a lot of Super Bowl airtime" with its sponsorship of the halftime show. Pepsi is also an official NFL sponsor and "holds multiple team sponsorships" (, 1/21).

NOT MUCH BUZZ: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Woo & Kantchev write Olympic sponsor Visa "hasn't tweeted about its sponsorship of the event or issued any news releases," while neither P&G nor Coca-Cola "has launched a major U.S. advertising campaign" for the Beijing Games. P&G Finance Chief Andre Schulten said that the company’s messaging "focuses on the athletes" and it leaves marketing decisions around China and the Olympics "up to individual market leaders." Sources said Coke is "running an Olympic advertising campaign this year only" in China. Swiss watchmaker Omega "has launched a new watch marking the Beijing Olympics, a move it makes for most Games." The "relatively quiet marketing ahead of the games is especially noticeable" for the 13 TOP sponsors. One sponsor that "has stood out" has been Intel. The company's General Counsel Steven Rodgers was the "only representative of the Games’ five major U.S. sponsors" to say that he was "willing to ask the IOC to postpone the Olympics to give China time to address the human-rights concerns" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/24).

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