#MarketingExcellenceAwards MY 2020 highlight: How Coca-Cola MY cracked open happiness for football fans

In most countries globally, football is not just a game, it’s a way of life. That is why Coca-Cola celebrates the passion for the sport by uniting all the fans together with football sponsorships such as FIFA World Cup, UEFA and Bundesliga. In January 2019, Coca-Cola became English Premier League’s (EPL) official non-alcoholic beverage sponsor for the first time ever.

However, the brand is not just stopping at sponsoring football events. In its campaign “Coca-Cola: Open up to live your dream”, Coca-Cola Malaysia looked to elevate the EPL experience for football fans in Malaysia through a series of creative activations, as well as a partnership with network company Astro.

The campaign won it the gold award for the category of “Excellence in Sponsorship Activation” in A+M’s Marketing Excellence Awards 2020. Let’s take a look at the campaign that won the judges over.

Challenge

Given that Malaysians are football enthusiasts with over 9.4 million EPL fan base locally, Coca-Cola Malaysia activated an EPL campaign from mid August 2019 to 31 Oct 2019, in conjunction with the 2019/20 EPL season. This helps to set the brand apart from its key competitors such as 100Plus, which is more active in local sports scene such as badminton, and Pepsi which is more skewed to music platform.

This campaign objective was to boost brand affinity among the brand’s core target audience: youths aged 15 to 29, with EPL as a passion point platform. Furthermore, Coca-Cola also wanted to increase consumption from its core Coca-Cola regular drinkers to sustain business growth post Hari Raya season.

Strategy

Coca-Cola looked to refresh and celebrate the football spirit by bringing EPL action closer to consumers. This comes as the brand identified Malaysians’ pain points of wanting to experience the tournament action closer to home. These include wanting to watch the game live, meeting their favourite football players, and getting their hands on the official merchandise.   

Thus, Coca-Cola’s media strategy for the campaign was to create mass impact in order to generate buzz and drive relevancy for the campaign amongst the audience.

It solution would be focused on reaching out to football fans according to their media consumption habits during EPL season. Coca-Cola looked to build engagement with football fans through a partnership with Astro partnership that connects them to Coca-Cola directly, as well as maximise reach through digital channels where footballs fans usually search for updates and tournament scores.

Execution

Coca-Cola created a 360 integrated sports ecosystem using various platforms by fulfilling fans’ dreams of experiencing the action at EPL.

Since Astro is the official media partner for EPL, and owns the largest media network that cuts across traditional and digital platforms, a partnership with them would offer Coca-Cola a better return-on-investment, instead of a conventional ad sponsorship. Furthermore, a partnership would mean additional PR and news coverage on Coca-Cola x EPL events in Astro’s key news channels such as Astro Awani and Astro Sports.

Hence Coca-Cola teamed up with the broadcast platform to access to football fans through multiple platforms penetration and engagement. Some creative activations that were done include:

  • Hijacking football fans social moments in real time via Live goal alerts for every EPL matches with Coca-Cola messaging across Facebook & YouTube platforms
  • Taking over EPG (Electronic program guide) across 20 TV channels with 128 million impressions with Coca-Cola’s messaging
  • Providing exclusive digital “Coca-Cola x Astro Sports” behind-the-scenes EPL content that is not available anywhere else.

Coca-Cola also further engaged football fans by enabling them to meet their favourite EPL stars. Coca-Cola set up a special one-to-one personalised virtual meet-and-greet for fans with current EPL players such as Harry Kane and Virgil Van Dyke. Additionally, hundreds of fans in Malaysia were treated to view football matches with their favourite idols in a replica setup of Anfield and Old Trafford’s stadiums.

To hype up fans even more, Coca-Cola launched a contest which got football fans to purchase its special Coca-Cola x EPL pack with unique code. The contest allowed participants to win over 30,000 football-related prizes such as a complimentary Astro Sports package, and a chance for them to catch their favourite game live in England. In total, Coca-Cola produced over 30 million limited edition Coca-Cola x EPL packs and over 12,000 trade display points to drive both business volume targets and visibility in markets.  

On a digital front, Coca-Cola leveraged football fans’ habit of searching for information regarding the EPL to deliver customised messaging. The brand targeted search interests such as football clubs, scores, football highlights, and more to cater customised messaging that would appeal to fans.

The brand also hijacked real-time football moments of fans that use multiple screens to watch the game (for example using the television for match viewing and mobile phones to chat with their friends during the game). This garnered a direct reach of over three million football fans.

Football social conversations are also a norm within football fans. Thus, Coca-Cola engaged football enthusiasts to drive talkability on its on-ground events with EPL stars as well as Coca-Cola’s contest.

Results

Through the campaign, Coca-Cola saw a double-digit growth in brand relevance, and doubled its brand affinity scores. The EPL sponsorship drove brand differentiation, appeal and relevance above the category average.

Besides that, Coca-Cola also saw significant growth in consumption behaviour among both Coca-Cola loyalists and regular drinkers. For its contest, Coca-Cola recorded its highest-ever contest entries in Coca-Cola Malaysia’s history, despite it being post-Hari Raya season.