MIAMI, FL: Coca-Cola, the soft-drinks manufacturer, has developed an innovative spin on sponsorship through signing an endorsement deal with a virtual soccer player in FIFA 18, a video game created by EA Sports, a unit of Electronic Arts.

Ricardo Fort, Coca-Cola’s VP/Global Sports Partnerships, discussed this subject during a session at the Festival of Media Latin America (FOMLA), an event held by C Squared.

More specifically, he referenced how Coca-Cola integrated its brand with a feature of EA’s FIFA franchise that enables gamers to manage the career of a fictional soccer player.

Alex Hunter, the name of this new digital soccer icon, first appeared in FIFA 17, and had an endorsement from Coke inserted into his storyline for this year’s game, which was released in September.

“When people are playing [video] games, it’s an occasion when they drink soft drinks,” said Fort. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Coca-Cola takes FIFA and football all over the world.)

“That's great for us, because we can match the consumption with the marketing activation. So, we signed a ‘sponsorship’ with this virtual player.”

In doing this new superstar justice, Alex Hunter joined a pantheon of very real Coke sports heroes who had lent their name to the brand, from gridiron star “Mean” Joe Greene to soccer players Zico and Diego Maradona.

Television spots featuring these sporting giants each followed a similar narrative, and Hunter was given the same treatment by the brand.

“We replicated that scene of the young boy who gives the Coke to his idol when he's walking off the field after being red carded,” said Fort.

It also created a “behind-the-scenes” video for the spot that placed Hunter in the noble lineage of Greene, Zico, and Maradona.

Given the importance of test-and-learn marketing, Fort proposed, “Something like this is part of an experiment that we're doing. And it's fine if it doesn't work. Luckily, it's working well, but we would be fine if it wasn't.”

Sourced from WARC