Coca-Cola ♥ the Olympic Games. After all, the soda maker has been lapping up the Olympics for every bit of marketing goodwill it can get for more than 80 years.
Now this year’s Olympics are in full swing and Coca-Cola can see the light at the end of the tunnel of its Move to the Beat campaign with singer Katy B and producer Mark Ronson that kicked off ahead of its sponsorship of the 8,000-mile Olympic torch relay. It's been a busy year with a variety of London 2012 marketing tie-ins.
And now Coca-Cola is extending its musical chops in a just-announced partnership with will.i.am to launch a sustainability-collaboration platform for brands dubbed EKOCYCLE, which is partnering to produce greener Beats by Dr Dre headphones — a brand that isn't music to the London Olympics organizers' ears.
The will.i.am partnership evolves Coca-Cola's Olympian music marketing tie-ins:
- Beat TV is now broadcasting every week night of the Games, running in 35 countries through Aug. 10. The ITV co-produced show aims to present the social side of the Games and feature interviews with sports stars. According to the company, more than 3.3 million people have already created and shared their beats using the integrated applications for desktop, mobile, SMS and the "My Beatmaker" app for smartphones.
- The Coca-Cola Beatbox interactive pavilion at the London Olympics site is expected to play host to nearly 200,000 visitors. Designed by London architects Pernilla Ohrstedt and Asif Khan. The circular building is electronically live and acts as a musical instrument that you can play as you move around it, using interactive sounds from the ''Anywhere in the World'anthem.
- Coca-Cola beverages will hydrate some 14,000 athletes, 7,000 officials, 20,000 workers and volunteers and more than 6 million spectators that are expected to flock to the Olympic Park. From one product in one size offered at the 1948 Olympic Games, to today's more than 500 brands at the London 2012 Games, Coca-Cola will provide the widest range of drinks and sizes ever offered at an Olympic or Paralympic Games, to suit every lifestyle and hydration need.
- The Powerade Sports Academy — As part of its bigger 2012 Olympics campaign, the Powerade brand is aiming to give amateur athletes the opportunity to train with professionals — is running for one week during the Games includes skills training in five sports - athletics, swimming, football, cycling and basketball - as well as a program of inspirational lectures, hydration and nutrition tips. Specialist coaches and athletes include Olympic Athlete and former World Champion Mechelle Lewis Freeman (US), NBA basketball star John Amaechi (GB) and Great Britain's head Olympic swimming coach Ben Titley.
- Physical Activity Programs - The brand's 80-plus years of support to the Olympic Games allows athletes to compete who otherwise would not be able to. Today, The Coca-Cola Company supports more than 250 physical activity and nutrition education programs in over 100 countries. In Great Britain, the Company's three-year partnership with StreetGames will bring more than 110,000 youth closer to sport.
- Sustainability: Coca-Cola is committed to realizing LOCOG's vision of leaving a lasting legacy by making London 2012 the most sustainable Olympic Games ever. At all London 2012 venues, Coca-Cola products will be served in 100% recyclable packaging and every empty bottle recycled at the venues will be turned back into a new bottle.
Eager to tie its global music platform back to its brand values, the soda maker is making its next music-based move by running with that sustainability messaging.
Today Coca-Cola announced it has hired will.i.am, the sponsor-friendly Black Eyed Peas frontman involved in its World Cup 2010 "Wavin' Flag" anthem, to serve as its ambassador to spur collaborating with other brands “to inspire a global movement with the launch of EKOCYCLE — a stand-alone brand initiative dedicated to helping encourage recycling behavior and sustainability among consumers through aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products." Those products will be "partially made" with recycled materials.
On August 1, the EKOCYCLE brand will premiere its first :60 television commercial (below) that will air in the U.S. market during the telecast of the Summer Olympic Games on NBC's channels. A full-scale marketing, advertising and online campaign will follow. The idea is to help consumers to help figure out recycling on an everyday basis and help them also make smart purchases when thinking about the environmental needs of the world.
The description for the spot: "All good things must end, but an end can be a new start. That's why will.i.am and Coca-Cola teamed up to form EKOCYCLE™. EKOCYCLE™ things are made, in part, from other things. Things that don't have to end. Things that begin again. Join the cycle at www.EKOCYCLE.com" — which redirects to a Facebook page. It's timed to take Coca-Cola's music/youth messaging, sustainably, beyond the Summer Olympics.
"With the Ekocycle brand, I'm on a mission to educate and inspire consumers around the globe to seek out more sustainable lifestyle choices that will ultimately play a part in the movement toward a world with zero waste," stated will.i.am in the release. "By making products that contain recycled materials more attractive to both businesses and consumers, everyone can do their part to keep the cycle going to turn discarded waste into cool, new items. The Coca-Cola Company shares this vision and together working with local communities worldwide, we will showcase the greater value of recycling, as well as selecting products that feature recycled materials."
"The EKOCYCLE brand initiative is a platform that aligns with our vision of zero waste and our focus on sustainability," added Bea Perez, VP and chief sustainability officer, The Coca-Cola Company (at right). "Together with will.i.am, we will promote recycling in a unique way with other well-known brands to create lifestyle products that consumers worldwide desire. Today's generation of young consumers represents an active force and the EKOCYCLE brand aims to be a driver in rallying their support and efforts around a global sustainability movement." (Hear more from will.i.am and Perez in the behind the scenes video of their photo shoot.)
The first two brands to partner with the effort by creating (RED)-style co-branded products start with the head: $349 headphones by Beats by Dr. Dre — made from "about three plastic bottles" according to AP — and a $32 cap by sportswear manufacturer New Era. The former brand collaborator is already making some observers think that there's some kind of Move to the Beats by Dr. Dre conspiracy afoot at the London Olympics.
As the Guardian notes today,
"Rapper Dr Dre has succeeded in gatecrashing the London 2012 Olympics, with an ambush marketing campaign that has seen Team GB athletes including Laura Robson and Tom Daley endorse the music entrepreneur's Beats headphones range.
The headphone brand, which is not an official sponsor of the International Olympic Committee or the London 2012 Olympic Games, has skirted strict rules on ambush marketing by sending Team GB members special versions of the Beats range branded with union flag colours.
Daley was seen on screen wearing his Beats headphones ahead of the synchronised platform diving competition on Monday, an event watched by a peak of 7 million viewers on the BBC.
Tennis player Laura Robson tweeted about receiving her headphones, although the post now appears to have been removed from her Twitter account, as did Team GB goalkeeper Jack Butland, who tweeted: "Love my GB Beats by Dre."
Check out Coca-Cola's first licensed EKOCYCLE products below: