Food & Drink: Coca-Cola fizzes up Olympic Torch Relay

Coca-Cola was one of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay's three partners. Through its sponsorship, Coca-Cola was able to choose several people to be torchbearers. As the only sponsor with the rights to bring live music to the Olympic Torch Relay, it was also allowed to host free concerts along the route.

Flame relay: Coca Cola gave youngsters the chance to get involved
Flame relay: Coca Cola gave youngsters the chance to get involved

Campaign: Future Flames
Client: Coca-Cola
PR team: Blue Rubicon
Timescale: September 2010-July 2012
Budget:  £450,000



  • To connect with young people.
  • To boost trust and positive association of Coca-Cola with parents and stakeholders (NGOs, politicians and the media).
  • To deliver sustained, positive media coverage, with the highest share of voice and brand association relative to Olympic organiser LOCOG and other sponsors.

Strategy and plan

Focus groups with young people revealed that they wanted to be involved in the Games, but were not sure how or whether sport was necessarily a motivator. The Future Flames campaign sought to address that by giving them the chance to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay.

Before the campaign's launch, 18 media partnerships were established with contacts such as SBTV and Live Magazine. Certain journalists were given the chance to be a torchbearer for backing the campaign.

Next, partnerships were formed with 115 youth-associated organisations including the National Union of Students and WWF, with ten youngsters recruited to act as spokespeople for the campaign.

This activity was in advance of a concert at Westfield London last summer, which launched Coca-Cola's association with the Olympics and Torch Relay.

The event was announced through social media the day before it took place by the artists who were performing, including Dizzee Rascal and Eliza Doolittle.

With broadcasters such as MTV covering the event, and interviews offered with the performers and ten spokespeople, Coca-Cola then unveiled a scheme in which youngsters across the UK could be nominated to carry the Olympic Torch.

A nationwide campaign followed, with experiential activity taking place at festivals, and affiliated organisations given media toolkits to help spread the word.

Once several hundred torchbearers had been chosen, footage of The Wanted announcing the news to some of those selected was put on Coca-Cola's YouTube channel, before being seeded more widely.

As well as hosting concerts along the route, the Torch Relay culminated in a concert for 65,000 people in Hyde Park, in July.

Measurement and evaluation

Future Flames generated 2,503 pieces of media coverage. This included footage on MTV and the BBC, as well as coverage on the Daily Mirror's front page.


There were more than 15,000 torchbearer nominations, with 7,000 youngsters attending the launch concert. More than 100,000 people registered for tickets to the five main concerts celebrating the Torch Relay and Future Flames. According to CityAM/Repskan, Coca-Cola consistently rated in the top ten sponsors most associated with the Olympics.



This campaign did a fantastic job of taking the spirit of London 2012 and translating it into a piece of activity that didn't have the Games at its centre. So everyone could get involved, regardless of sporting ability.

Coca-Cola stood out from the other Torch Relay partners by associating more closely with the 'inspiring a generation' message, thanks to its authority and credibility with youth.

The selection of talent helped to encapsulate an authentic tone for the events, providing variety without being corporate.

The tie-up with grassroots organisations and stakeholders was key to the project's success, ensuring that they were able to draw on a network of support across the UK and an army of enthusiastic spokespeople.

There could have been an opportunity to deepen the impact by creating more digital content and driving greater integration with the ad funding programming Coca-Cola created for its Olympic sponsorship.

The challenge is to continue to engage with those who came into contact with the relay.

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