This summer, Coca-Cola Consolidated teamed up with Cincinnati Reds All-Star Shortstop Zack Cozart, Kroger and the United Service Organization (USO) of Central and Southern Ohio to kick off a unique program to thank military personnel for their continued service.

The “Message in a Bottle” campaign began with hundreds of greater Cincinnati residents gathering at the Oakley Kroger Marketplace to write messages of support and encouragement for our armed forces. With the help of the USO of Central and Southern Ohio, the messages will be distributed to active-duty military in 253-ml Coca-Cola bottles, a new package size for the company.

“The USO’s mission is about connections to family, home, and country. 'Message in a Bottle' is one more way we can provide a connection to home for our military service members,” said Sherry Ems, executive director of the USO of Southern & Central Ohio. “The USO of Central and Southern Ohio is grateful for the partnership with Coca-Cola Consolidated and Kroger. It is through this partnership that we can continue to be the Force Behind the Forces.”

During the event, Zack Cozart wrote a message to the troops, signed autographs and greeted excited fans alongside Mr. Red Legs and Rosie Red, the Reds’ enthusiastic mascots.

“Coca-Cola Consolidated is grateful to active service members and veterans around the world for their service. We developed the 'Message in a Bottle' campaign as a way for our associates, consumers and other members of the community to express this gratitude directly,” said Glenn Hager, senior director of operations. “We are excited to kick-off the 'Message in a Bottle' campaign in Cincinnati and hope that over time we can write hundreds of messages in support of our men and women in arms.”

After the success in Cincinnati, “Message in a Bottle” headed Northwest to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to activate at the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400! On July 22, racing fans wrote personalized messages to the troops. The messages were delivered the following day at a special pre-race brunch hosted by Coca-Cola Consolidated and the USO for military personnel and their families. Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers Ryan Newman and Joey Logano stopped by to thank members of the Indiana USO for their service and to hold an interactive Q&A with their fans. Vice President Mike Pence even sent in a personal video commending “Message in a Bottle,” along with his own signed message for the troops.

The next stop on the "Message in a Bottle" train was at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., where hundreds of soldiers received messages of thanks from Coca-Cola Consolidated employees. Coca-Cola Family Racing Driver Danica Patrick was also on base to meet and sign autographs with eager troops.

At George Mason University in September, students celebrated National College Colors Day by writing uplifting and inspiring messages other students. The messages will be distributed prior to students’ final exam week in December.

As Coca-Cola’s “Message in a Bottle” campaign continues to grow, people around the world can follow the movement and show their support via #minibottlemessage.