Coca-Cola to Soften Marketing if Unrest Hits the World Cup

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The World Cup in Brazil could be a festive, colorful, multi-ethnic celebration. Major sponsor Coca-Cola certainly hopes so and has built its largest World Cup ad campaign around that scenario. But according to Coke executive Joe Tripodi, the company is also prepared to adjust quickly if protests and unrest disrupt the games or even just harsh the buzz:

“We hope there is no unrest. But we recognize these things happen. You always have to be smart to have all kind of Plan Bs, Plan Cs and Ds to prepare for any contingency. And if certain things happen you might have to change the tonality of your marketing or communications … to make sure our messaging better reflected the mood in a particular country.”

Many Brazilians are upset at the exorbitant public cost of building and refurbishing stadiums for the World Cup. Protests at the Confederation Cup last year in Brazil turned violent, and tear gas wafted over stadiums during matches. The World Cup trophy tour will spend six weeks in Brazil beginning later this month, and Coca-Cola will gauge public reaction.

Tripodi indicated it wouldn’t be difficult for the soft-drink giant to tweak its marketing message before the games begin,

“The world we live in now is full of massive disruption, frequent chaos and change all the time. So as a company and as a brand if you are not prepared to respond … then you aren’t going to survive.”

Steve Henson is a senior editor with the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.

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