A Coca-Cola Great Britain case study
The importance of image
Our image is the way in which others see us. People quickly form opinions about us
from the way we dress, walk and talk, from where we live and from our interests.
Image in the business sense is what people think and feel consciously and
subconsciously about a company or product. The creation of this image is crucial to
the success of a business. It is necessary to create 'the right image' of a product, i.e.
one that closely matches consumers' feelings of what the product should be like. It
is therefore an important part of marketing to build on 'associations' between
products and other aspects of life.
This case study shows how Coca-Cola and sports share a tradition of close
association which dates back nearly a century. Coca-Cola and sports are a natural fit.
Coca-Cola strives to be everywhere people gather for fun, recreation and enjoyment
- everything which makes sport a popular pastime for so many people around the
Visit any major sporting event or arena in your neighbourhood and you will see
people drinking Coca-Cola before, during and after participating in sports, or when
they are spectators because sport is as much for the fans.
A natural fit
When consumers make a purchasing decision, they consider a range of aspects of
the product which make up what is often referred to as 'The product concept.'
Products are not just purchased to meet a single need; the ownership and use of a
product involve a whole range of factors that make up the product concept.
For example, it may appear that a couple choose to holiday in the West Indies
because they are attracted by the sand, sun and surf. However, when questioned
further, it may come to light that they are more concerned with the 'image' which
they present - friends, associates and 'significant others' will become aware that they
are able to afford to holiday in the West Indies. Holidaying in the West Indies is
associated with a particular lifestyle. In the public's imagination it may represent
being rich and able to afford exotic things.
When we examine the 'product concept' of a soft drink, then we need to consider
the wider elements which attract consumers. Clearly the key benefits of a soft drink
are that it quenches thirst and that it is refreshing. However, there are other
'sensual dimensions' which are equally important and lead us to choose one drink
rather than another. These sensual dimensions include its colour, taste, smell,
texture, appearance and the design of the packaging in which it is presented.
In addition, there are other dimensions which are equally important such as the
'image' associated with the product and the 'image' of the company which produces
the product. Consumers will prefer those products which have a strong positive
image. An important ingredient of this image will be the association that the product
There are a number of products which are closely associated with particular events
or occasions. Obvious examples are:
Strawberries and cream at Wimbledon
Popcorn and ice cream at the theatre or cinema
Beer and skittles evenings at the local pub, etc.
Perhaps you can think of some other examples.
It makes sound marketing sense to build on these associations and this is exactly
what Coca-Cola has done in the sports arena. In this case study therefore we have
set out to highlight Coca-Cola's association with sports by focusing on:
The Olympic Games
The relationship which Coca-Cola has with sport seeks to advance the development
of sport overall and to help make sporting competitions possible by supporting
events for the participation and pleasure of athletes and spectators. At the same
time, the Company benefits from its association with sports in several key ways:
Its image is enhanced through association with prestigious sporting events.
Promotions and other marketing tie-ins with sports and sporting events have
a widespread consumer appeal.
The Coca-Cola trademark is highly visible at appropriate venue sites and
through promotional activity.
Products are sold at major sporting occasions to millions of consumers.
Coca-Cola Great Britain | Coca-Cola and sports - Partnership through Competition
The Olympic Games
Since 1928, The Coca-Cola Company's active support of the Olympic ideal has
continually grown in scope and depth. Today, Coca-Cola is the longest continuous
Olympic sponsor. The 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam marked the beginning of
The Coca-Cola Company's involvement, when a freighter arrived with the U.S.
Olympic Team and 1,000 cases of Coca-Cola.
As Coca-Cola made its Olympic debut, so did several other traditions that would
become familiar sights at later Olympic Games. The Olympic Flame was lit for the
first time in modern Olympic history and women competed for the first time, taking
part in track and field events.
When the Olympic Games came to Los Angeles in 1932, Coca-Cola rolled out the red
carpet. The Company distributed 3 million miniature cut-outs listing Olympic records
to young people across the country.
During the Games, more than 200 teenagers dressed in white jackets and gloves
served Coca-Cola to many of the spectators in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
After a 12 year gap due to World War II, the Olympic Games resumed in 1948 in
London. Overcoming lingering effects of the war, Coca-Cola shipped equipment in
from Glasgow and Belfast, to meet the thirsty demands of athletes and spectators in
For the 1952 Summer Games, The Coca-Cola Company brought more than 300,000
cases of Coca-Cola to Helsinki from the Netherlands aboard the M.S. Marvic, a
rebuilt World War II landing craft, in what became known as 'Operation Muscle.'
Much of the product was donated by the Company for sale by the Disabled Ex-
In 1960, Italian Bottlers of Coca-Cola showed their support for the Olympic Games in
Rome when they presented athletes, officials and spectators with a 45rpm record of
'Arrivederci Roma' a favourite song of the day.
The Company continued creating new ways to enhance the Olympic experience in
1964 by aiding athletes, spectators and the media covering the Tokyo Games with
guide maps, sight-seeing information and a Japanese-English phrase book.
During the 1970s and 80s, The Coca-Cola Company increased further its
involvement with the Olympic movement. For example, in 1979 the Company helped
the U.S. Olympic Committee create the 'U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame' to honour
America'a greatest Olympic athletes.
In 1987, Coca-Cola became the first sponsor of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne,
Switzerland, with a pledge of $1 million (U.S.) to the International Olympic
Committee. The Coca-Cola Company broke new ground in 1988 when it orchestrated
the creation of 'The Coca-Cola World Chorus' for the Olympic Winter Games in
Comprised of 43 young people from 23 countries selected through competitions
sponsored by local Bottlers of Coca-Cola, including Great Britain, the chorus
performed the signature song of the Games - 'Can't You Feel It?' - before millions of
television viewers during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
In 1992 the International Olympic Torchbearers' Program, presented by Coca-Cola,
brought together 150 runners from 50 nations, again including Great Britain, to
participate in the Olympic Torch Relay in Spain for the = XXVth Olympiad in
Barcelona. This was the first time people from other countries participated in the
host country's torch relay. As the exclusive presenter of the 1996 Olympic Torch
Relay, Coca-Cola provided 2,500 people with the chance to select someone special in
their lives to be among the 10,000 torchbearers, through various consumer
promotions and the International Olympic Torchbearers' Program.
As the Official Soft Drink of the 1996 Olympic Games, Coca-Cola and other products
of The Coca-Cola Company were provided to help quench the thirst of the athletes,
officials, spectators and members of the media who attended the Games.
Coca-Cola estimated that 20 million servings of their products were consumed at the
official venues in Atlanta, more than 830 times the number of servings consumed at
the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam.
The Company built Coca-Cola Olympic City for the Centennial Olympic Games.
Olympic City brought the Olympic experience to nearly one million people. Visitors
were able to compete against Olympic champions and judge athletes' performances
through interactive activities, enjoy an entertaining variety of live performances and
meet Olympic athletes.
Coca-Cola supports football at all levels - from youngsters learning their first skills -
to the world stage. As the owner of the world's number one brand, The Coca-Cola
Company feels a tremendous affinity with the world's number one game. Football is
about fun, excitement, passion, pride and shared enjoyment and so is Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola's philosophy for supporting football is defined by the fans who are the
consumers. This reflects the way that the Company operates and has helped Coca-
Cola to become the world's most popular soft drink. This market driven approach
involves listening to what people say and giving them what they want. The thing
that millions of fans want passionately.... is football!
Coca-Cola sets out to support football at every level of the game. On a global basis
Coca-Cola has been a World Cup supporter since the 1978 tournament in Argentina,
will be there in France in 1998 and into the next millennium.
In Europe, Coca-Cola is involved with the European Championship and played a
prominent part in making the 1996 event in England such a success. In Great
Britain, Coca-Cola has earned its place in the fabric of football, through its support of
the England national team, the Coca-Cola Cups in England and Scotland and through
grass roots development programmes. Since 1978, hundreds of thousands of young
hopefuls have learned their first skills through the Football Association Coca-Cola
Football Development Programme. For example, in 1996 over 180,000 youngsters
joined FA soccer centres around the country, for fun, memorable events and for
professional coaching and training. Coca-Cola Fun Weeks, run in conjunction with FA
coaches during school holidays, are now recognised as the number one organised
summer activity in England for young people.
Through these, and other programmes, youngsters can improve their skills and
techniques, learn the essential values of good behaviour and fair play on the pitch in
a fun, relevant and challenging way.
These activities are backed by Coca-Cola's Football in the Curriculum campaign,
bringing football to life in the classroom.
Whilst every one of these youngsters enjoys being part of the game, just a handful
will fulfil their ambitions to become professional players. All of them, however, will
go on to support the game at varying levels and some of them might even make it
to the very top.
Coca-Cola's support of young footballers was demonstrated by its creation of a
'Soccer Sixes' tournament to mirror Euro 96. Girls and boys six-a-side teams, aged
15 and under, from the 16 participating Euro 96 countries took part.
The initial groups were the same as the main competition and a mini Wembley
Stadium was created on Clapham Common, with the final also on the 30th June. In
the mid-1990s the Coca-Cola Cups are an important part of the sporting calendar in
England and Scotland. Coca-Cola's aim was to enhance the game by enabling more
fans to share in the excitement and passion that is Cup football. During the period of
Coca-Cola's support, live attendance at matches has risen by 11and TV audiences
have grown by 16 Coca-Cola helped to create family enclosures which have made
the game accessible to a wider audience and helped create better, unique occasions
and experiences for and with fans. A great example of this is the Coca-Cola Cup final
at Wembley where supporters' anthems are played, bringing fans together to
express, as one, their pride and passion for their teams and their game. The result is
a totally unique atmosphere.
Following on from the continuous support of Coca-Cola since 1974, in April 1996 diet
Coke announced an exciting five-year partnership with one of Britain's leading
summer sporting events - The Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon. At the
time, diet Coke had established itself as Britain's No.1 diet soft drink (second only to
Coca-Cola in overall soft drink consumption) and was enjoying dynamic growth. In
order to consolidate this position, a major marketing push was planned for the
summer of 1996, focusing on encouraging even more people around the country to
share in the fun, thrill and experience of Wimbledon.
As Official Carbonated Soft Drink to The Championships, diet Coke was there to
refresh the players and the fans of the Wimbledon tournament. The campaign was
supported by an instant-win scratch card promotion, offering consumers the chance
to win free cans of diet Coke and tennis rackets. The brand also served up an
imaginative advertising campaign, major promotional and PR campaigns and themed
events in shopping malls up and down the country.
Sport should not be a discriminating activity to be enjoyed only by the young and fit.
Both playing and appreciating sport is an activity which millions of people can enjoy
throughout the world, no matter what their background and abilities. Remember the
slogan 'Sport for All'. Nothing should prevent anyone from practising competitive
sports, as sport is a key way of improving the quality of life. Since 1985, Coca-Cola
has sponsored Special Olympics in Great Britain, which is a multi-sports competition
programme for people with learning difficulties.
This is a particularly important part of Coca-Cola's long term approach to
sponsorship, as it helps to make leisure and sporting activities so much more
important for so many groups and enables Coca-Cola to give something back to the
community, particularly where needs are greatest.