CAMPAIGNS: Coke unveils Powerade in Euro market - Product Launch

Coca-Cola had something to prove with the launch of its sports-drink Powerade in Europe in October last year. The sports-drink market is a fast-growing sector at eight per cent year-on-year and Coke felt it had missed out in the US where slow reactions left it trailing Pepsi's Gatorade.

Objectives

Coke wanted Powerade to take the lead in the fragmented European sports-drink market. It wanted to publicise its corporate strategy the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Turkey, and reach consumer press as the product arrived on the shelves. The PR teams had to ensure a high-profile launch in a media environment overshadowed by the events of 11 September and the conflict in Afghanistan.

Strategy and Plan

The strategy had several strands. The initial strike was a business news story about Coke's plans to take on the European sports-drink market.

This was given as an exclusive to The Wall Street Journal Europe and follow-ups were planned with CNN for broadcast, the BBC World Service for radio and Ananova on the internet.

As the media was full of gloomy predictions about the economic downturn, Coke's bold plans for Europe were pitched as a piece of positive economic news - a company expanding confidently.

WS co-ordinated a piece of research on young people's attitudes to sport and leisure. As different agencies were handling local corporate and consumer PR, the 'Powerade Performance Report' was used to pull various headlines comparing activities between countries that could be pushed locally.

The report's findings made up part of a 'tool-kit' that could be used by all the agencies. Other 'tools' included a video package for broadcast journalists, a CD containing photographic and audio-visual material, a brand 'mood' video that could be used for media and trade briefings and a sports-related viral game to generate interest online.

Local agencies in each country were able to use these as and when appropriate with consumer roll-out staggered across the Continent. France, where the bottle's cap had problems with local legislation, launched only recently, while Sweden and Spain are already well advanced.

Measurement and Evaluation

The WSJ Europe broke the story and other media sectors all followed up on the launch day (12 October). CNN ran a package and interview including WS's video despite the launch falling in the first week of the Afghan conflict. The Powerade Performance Report received corporate as well as consumer coverage from the likes of The Financial Times and Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Results

The audience reached by European and local media was around 55 million.

Coke has yet to reveal its share of Europe's sports-drink marketbut says market share in one target country, Sweden, was 40 per cent by January. By March, the drink had sold more than 67,000 cases in Sweden.

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