World Cup Winner: Coca-Cola for Sonic Branding


Spain emerged victorious on the 2010 World Cup field, but the winner in branded music is Coca-Cola’s World Cup anthem. K’Naan’s Wavin’ Flag has achieved #1 status around the world and is poised to live on as a catchy earworm that proves the power of sonic branding. Find out more about Coca-Cola’s campaign after the jump.

Coca-Cola took a risk by choosing a tune by a relatively unknown artist — K’Naan, who was born in Somalia and grew up in Canada — as its official song and crown jewel of its $300 million 2010 FIFA campaign. The rerecorded version, “Coca-Cola Celebration Mix,” also came in over 20 regional flavors via duets (including Spanish, French, Chinese, Thai, and Arabic) recorded with local musicians. The U.S. remix features David Guetta and

According to soundlounge CEO Ruth Simmons, “Coke has used a technique we call audio watermarking. This is a popular and well-known trick that has been around for centuries and used by composers and producers to weave a sound/motif into a piece of music … watermarking acts like an ‘earworm’, which gets inside our brains and becomes so compulsive that we go around humming it as we walk down the street and not understanding why. We effectively become living, walking, singing commercials for Coke.”

As for Coca-Cola, Emmanuel Seuge, its group director of worldwide sports and entertainment marketing, told Billboard: “We wanted a song that embodied our campaign. It needed to be upbeat, it needed to be uplifting, it needed to be an invitation for people to celebrate.”

“By sneaking the Coke melody into an otherwise musically unbranded song,” notes Simmons, “they’ve seen incredible success in the charts. In our opinion, it’s a much more intelligent form of branding than paying artists to name-drop brands in their lyrics.”

Indeed, Coca-Cola’s announcement wrapping up its 2010 World Cup campign notes that the anthem reached number one on music charts in 17 countries and generated more than 800,000 download purchases. The video versions of the single amassed more than 87 million views on YouTube in addition to being the centerpiece of Coca-Cola’s World Cup trophy tour.

Coke’s CMO Joe Tripodi commented, “Our largest ever integrated marketing program has set a new standard for our sponsorship of global events. Our FIFA partnership has been a cornerstone of our marketing efforts in 2010 and has been effective in reaching millions of consumers around the world.”

K’Naan added, “I saw it as an opportunity to reach more people. I don’t work for Coke or anything; what I do is my music. This was a really great opportunity for them to use my song, without compromising my integrity as a musician. This is what I write, these are the songs I make. I’m happy about it.”

The singer also wrote in Vanity Fair, “It has been sung in over 20 languages and has raised more than a million dollars to benefit Haiti. Born to humility, at first it was written off as an outcast; the story of this song’s unexpected success is as farfetched as a Bollywood theme.”

Last World Cup team standing: Spain. Last World Cup brand still standing as other sponsors’ advertising fades away: by the sounds of it, Coke.