Coca-Cola Inks Endorsement Deal with Fictional ‘FIFA 18’ Soccer Star

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For the first time ever, the company will use a virtual endorser.

Coca-Cola is turning to a virtual soccer star to endorse its ‘Zero Sugar’ product.

Alex Hunter might be the next face of Coca-Cola. He also just happens to be a fictional soccer star.

In a first for the 125-year-old company, Coca-Cola has signed a virtual athlete to an endorsement deal.

“For us, this reinvents brand content and how we approach advertising,” said Alban Dechelotte, Senior Entertainment Marketing Manager for Coca-Cola Co.

In a tribute the brand’s classic 1979 “Mean Joe,” television spot, in which an American Football star is given a bottle of Coca-Cola from a fan after a tough game, the Coca-Cola Company has released its first ever in-game advertising spot for use on external marketing platforms.

The story behind the fully computer-generated ad spot is told within “The Journey: Hunter Returns” mode for the PlayStation 4, Xbox and PC versions of EA SPORTS FIFA 18 which allows players to experience life as emerging soccer star, Alex Hunter. As part of the game’s story, Coca-Cola signs the rising player to become its ambassador to launch the new Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.

“It’s great to be a part of this truly unique collaboration, the first of its kind,” said Dave Madden, Head of Global Brand Partnerships for EA. “This in-game Coca-Cola endorsement gives our fans a taste of life as a renowned football star and the opportunities that come along with it.”

The unique collaboration with EA Sports FIFA 18’s Alex Hunter will extend beyond the game through specialized packaging and retail partnerships within the US and globally. The ad spot will be shared on social channels and displayed on marquee out of home sites including the recently installed Coca-Cola Times Square sign, the world’s first 3D robotic sign.

A look at the can that Hunter will be featured on. (Photo via Scott Sandalow)

For Coca-Cola, this new initiative allows their brand to be front and center in a game that sold over 21 million copies in 2017.

“This is an exciting brand innovation,” said Matt Wolf, Vice President of Entertainment, Ventures & Strategic Alliances at The Coca-Cola Company. “Signing Alex Hunter puts Coca-Cola at the intersection of gaming and brand marketing within the most popular franchise sports game in the world.”

This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.

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