Coca-Cola returns to the airwaves to support America’s heroes

Coca-Cola, a multi-winner of the World Branding Awards, saluted America’s heroes – both military service members and healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – during the Memorial Day weekend broadcast of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race in Charlotte, NC.

The brand aired a 30-second ad titled “For Everyone” during the 24 May telecast. Jaideep Kibe, VP for the Coca-Cola trademark in North America, said the creative “showcases the optimism and togetherness that are hallmarks of our brand at a time when Americans need positivity the most and honours the countless acts of selflessness, kindness and courage demonstrated by millions across the country.”

“For Everyone” is a localised, English-language version of a Spanish-language spot (“Por Todos”) from Mercado McCann in Argentina Coke released this month in Latin America and Spain. KO:OP, Coca-Cola North America’s in-house creative agency, managed the edit.

The ad premiered on Sunday during NASCAR’s spectator-free return at Darlington Raceway, ending Coke’s seven-week hiatus from the airwaves, and aired once again during the Darlington 500 ahead of the weekend’s race.

“The return of NASCAR, even without spectators and fans in attendance, is an important milestone as we navigate the impacts COVID-19 has had and continues to have, on everyday life,” said John Mount, VP, Sports Marketing and Region Assets, Coca-Cola North America.

“Whilst we can’t physically be together and the stands may be empty this weekend, NASCAR’s return allows fans, friends and family to come together in a different way, in the safety of their own home, to cheer on their favourite drivers with their favourite food and a Coke.”

Coca-Cola also used the Coca-Cola 600 – a Memorial Day tradition – to continue its longstanding support of the US military with a US$500k/£409k donation to the United Services Organisation (USO) and the American Red Cross in honour of the frontline heroes in the fight against COVID-19.

COVID-19 has challenged Coca-Cola – and countless other brands – to retune their marketing strategies and adapt in real-time. In the initial phase of the outbreak, when uncertainty and fear are paramount, most markets paused all advertising and redeployed funds to support local community relief programmes and promote public health messaging.

Mount said the pandemic has challenged Coca-Cola to rethink its sports and entertainment sponsorship assets, too. “We’ve taken a step back and looked at our portfolio of assets to see how we could evolve them in a way that could continue to inspire moments of uplift and aid COVID-19 relief in the communities we serve,” he explained.

For example, Coca-Cola has launched #WeLoveThisPlace, a new social campaign encouraging Americans to support their favourite local restaurants. FOX is integrating campaign messaging in its NASCAR coverage, inviting viewers to share which restaurants they love and miss the most using the #WeLoveThisPlace hashtag and tagging @cocacola.

With the majority of the world sheltering at home, Coca-Cola is redirecting media spending to where it can be most effective, driving messages through digital channels and supporting the growth of e-commerce.

“This has demonstrated the ability of our global organisation to be flexible and quickly pivot toward a new, very different reality no one could have imagined at the beginning of this year,” said Manolo Arroyo, chief marketing officer and president, Asia Pacific group. “The speed at which these teams have adapted 2020 plans based on the radical shifts we’ve seen in shopping behaviour is remarkable.”

The Coca-Cola system, including The Coca-Cola Foundation, is pledging more than US$100m/£81.8m to support COVID-19 relief efforts in communities around the world.