Advertising Creative Strategy
for The Coca-Cola Company
1996 Summer Olympic Games
Red was everywhere with Coke as its sidekick: the omnipresent red vending kiosks wherever fans turned, the 65-foot-tall red Coca-Cola bottle in the middle of Olympic City, the "Red Hot Summer Olympics Promotion" that swept the country. The Coca-Cola Company was aware of the psychological effects of the color red when developing its first creative strategy. Some would argue that this color has been as important to Coca-Cola as its recipes! According to the Pantone Color Institute, the key words associated with red are winner, achiever, intense, impulsive, active, competitive, daring, aggressive and passionate. Desire is the crucial word, a hunger for fullness of experience and living. All that red embodies symbolizes the Olympic Games and the spirit of the Coca-Cola Company. The color red was a significant asset to the partnership of the spirit of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the creative strategy of Coca-Cola. Coke used four main strategies in advertising as a sponsor of the 1996 Games: a home-based strategy, a fan-based strategy, a global growth strategy, and the Olympic Torch Relay.
"Home Turf Strategy"
One tool Coca-Cola used as a part of its creative advertising strategy was its tie to the city of Atlanta. Because Atlanta is the main headquarters of Coca-Cola, having the 1996 Olympic Games there was an automatic advertising plus for it. The soft-drink company's connection to Atlanta was no secret to the city's residents and visitors, especially because of the Coke Museum, as well as the countless Coca-Cola souvenir shops and paraphernalia already in place there. When developing the creative strategy for Coca-Cola's Olympic advertising campaign, this hometown advantage was incorporated into the integrated marketing communications plan. Some of the Coca-Cola advertisements in Atlanta that were added just for the 1996 Olympics were 70 new billboards, 325 street-pole banners, numerous kiosks selling Coke products throughout the city, and signs in 9 MARTA stations (the city's public transportation system). Another integrated marketing communication technique that was used in connection with Atlanta was the creation of the Coca-Cola Olympic City. The purpose of this theme park was to build on the spirit and excitement of the games while also bringing refreshment and brand placement of Coca-Cola to the fans. The park had activities and games designed to give fans a hands-on experience of what it is to be an athlete in the Olympics. For example, a visitor to the park could walk on a balance beam, shoot a basketball against a virtual Dream Team, or run in a virtual 10-yard dash against Florence Griffith Joyner. Strategically, there were Coca-Cola products for sale throughout the park. There were also countless different Coke advertisements, including a 165 ft. Coke bottle in the center of the park. The company's signature color, red, was the main color seen throughout the Coca-Cola Olympic City. The Coca-Cola Olympic City was described by Steve Murray of The Atlanta Journal Constitution as "A soft drink ad disguised as a theme park." Also, because of Coca-Cola's advertising domination in Atlanta and the Olympics in 1996, many people have nicknamed the Atlanta Olympics as the Coke Olympics.
Coca-Cola used the fan-based strategy in an attempt to differentiate itself from traditional Olympic advertising, which used athletes. The "For the Fans" campaign went into action with a series of ads featuring actual photographs of fans drinking Coke at Olympic Games from 1928 onward. The first two commercials aired during the week of March 6, 1996 and featured black and white photos from previous Olympics showing fans in Switzerland holding Coca-Cola bottles. In the next step, Coke focused on a series of ads highlighting real life stories about how Coke has made a difference to young aspiring athletes. Finally, for the third step, Coke used commercials, print ads, and posters that addressed whether the enthusiasm of the fans makes a real difference to the outcome of the sporting event. The answer was resoundingly yes.
"Global Growth Strategy"
Coca-Cola also used the strategy of being a cornerstone of global growth during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The Olympics was certainly a good event through which Coca-Cola could do this. What better to emphasize the company's globalization than an event that encourages worldwide participation?
The final creative strategy was the Olympic Torch Relay. The 84-day, 15,000-mile relay through 42 states marked one of the most effective strategies for gaining exposure in advertising history, and Coca-Cola took center stage as the proud sponsor.