Johannesburg - The 2010 FIFA World Cup was not so much about sport as about nation-building, declares Coca-Cola executive Zayd Abrahams.
"Youth is not just a target market for us, it's the future of the country - and it's our responsibility to provide the platforms for that future. Our country is 16 years old, the same age as our core target market, and there are growing pains in both."
Abrahams, head of marketing for the Coca-Cola company's 15 carbonated brands, is self-evidently passionate about both country and company. For 2010, Coke (a FIFA official partner since 1974) prepared its biggest integrated campaign ever, a joint exercise of its local and global marketers.
It ran a high-visibility conventional advertising campaign, but even more was going on below the radar. Billboards tended to be in the outlying rural areas, not just the highly visible urban sites, and the experiential projects were collectively much bigger.
"We think of marketing very holistically, creating a consistent look and feel. Whether you experienced the brand in a tavern or on a Sandton billboard there's a commonality across 180 countries," says Abrahams.
Biggest initiative was the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour run by Coca-Cola, displaying the official trophy across 86 countries, 50 of them African.
"As SA's favourite brand we have a responsibility to take the World Cup to the people," says Abrahams. "Remote, impoverished communities, cut off from World Cup activity, had the opportunity to see it.
"We do this every four years, but South Africa provided an unbelievable opportunity. The campaign was driven by strong African and SA insights into how the region interacts with the world."
Equally effective was the tavern programme, which supported 1100 taverns with training in business, marketing and hospitality skills, and supplied collateral products such as aprons, table mats and even, in some cases, TV sets.Other initiatives:
- The Coca-Cola Celebration award chosen by public vote from among the players who celebrate their goal-scoring with a victory dance. Each one earned a donation to Coke's Rain initiative, providing water wells and boreholes across Africa. The idea was inspired by Cameroonian Roger Mila's victory jiggle at the 1994 World Cup.
- Coke gave away 20 000 tickets to deprived schoolchildren, who qualified by taking part in recycling initiatives.
- An eye-catching airport display welcoming visitors and dispensing ice-cold Cokes.
- New Coca-Cola anthem, Wavin' Flag, composed by a Somalian, K'Naan, has become a No 1 hit in 17 countries, including South Africa. Not since Coke's ground breaking 1971 Hilltop commercial, in which a group of fresh-faced kids sang "I'd like to teach the world to sing", has a piece of music had such a commercial impact across the world.
- Copa Coca-Cola, a world-wide high school football development programme integrated with life skills.
- A documentary about the history of celebration on the Coca-Cola Soccer Zone TV Show.
-The actual ball used in each match was a prize for one of the teenage ballboys.
- Coke's new slogan, Open Happiness, was launched during this campaign.
Most of the work was done by The Red Lounge, a dedicated multi-skilled team of experts drawn from various agencies under the banner of the Royal Metropole, a MetropolitanRepublic initiative.
"When we launched in May, there was still negativity, talk of switching the event to Australia. But the people of South Africa have been galvanised behind this one event. Everything has been exceeded – visitors, money, jobs. This is Africa's World Cup."