In a nod to nostalgia and patriotic pride, Coca‑Cola this weekend kicks off a flurry of events that pay tribute to the nation’s Armed Forces members and the USO’s 75th anniversary (which also marks the 75th anniversary of the company’s partnership with the USO).
The activities begin this Memorial Day weekend at the Coca‑Cola 600. The USO has launched a heart felt campaign –“Campaign to Connect” –to show service members how much Americans support them. This year’s Share a Coke® and a Song campaign will be activated at the race, and limited-edition patriotic cans of Coca‑Cola® with the lyric of a song that screams red, white and blue are available at convenience stores now through July 4th. It’s like fireworks before the Fourth of July.
“Since the organization's very beginning in 1941, the USO has been near and dear to us. Our relationship is now part of our heritage, our DNA. The patriotic graphics on special 16 oz. cans and multiple club packs are a small way of saying thanks to the USO for all they do,” said Erika von Heiland Strader, director, Community Marketing, Coca‑Cola North America. “On behalf of all our Coca‑Cola associates, we congratulate the USO on 75 years of connecting service members to their family, home and country!”
Among this weekend’s highlights:
- The Campaign. Called “Campaign to Connect” and created by the USO and supported by Coca‑Cola, its goal is to encourage consumers to send one million messages to service members and their families in an oversized show of support. That’s important because a recent survey revealed that 90 percent of service members feel the American public doesn’t understand the sacrifices they make, and 37 percent stated they felt the public doesn’t appreciate their service. The messages –which just might change those statistics –will scroll across large TV screens at the USO’s 180 locations worldwide.
- The Website. To help generate those messages, the USO and Coca‑Cola teamed up to create a new website, https://www.uso.org/Coke. Website visitors can participate in “Campaign to Connect” by simply clicking on the “Send a Message” icon. The website also includes additional information on the 75-year partnership between Coke and the USO.
- The Race. At the Coca‑Cola 600 this Sunday in Charlotte, Coca‑Cola will have even greater visibility than usual. The Share a Coke® and a Song Fan Zone activation area will feature USO kiosks that let race fans learn more about Coca‑Cola’s enduring partnership with the USO, which dates back to 1941, and encourages them to support the non-profit organization by joining the “Campaign to Connect.” The race will also have more than 6,000 service members in attendance, including 75 service members and USO volunteers who will join the races Grand Marshal, General (Retired) George W. Casey, Jr., Chairman, USO Board of Governors, to give the command to get the Coca‑Cola 600 underway. It is the fifth year in a row that USO representatives have been the race Grand Marshals.
- The Cans. As part of the Share a Coke® and a Song campaign, newly designed, limited-edition packs and cans of Coca‑Cola® will be available at convenience stores nationwide until July 4th. The can features the classic “I’m Proud to Be An American” song lyric. The design, which is available on 16-ounce cans and 20, 24 and 35 packages of 12-ounce Coca‑Cola®, was a year in the making, and it includes a wavy U.S. flag, the USO and Coca‑Cola® logos, the “Campaign to Connect” website and the patriotic song lyric.
- The Song. This Share a Coke and a Song patriotic packaging is a great way to honor our nation’s service members and their families on the 75th anniversary of our partnership with the USO with the perfect song lyric. And, nothing could be more appropriate than the patriotic “I’m Proud to be an American,” song lyric.
Travis Burgin, USO’s director of marketing and advertising, sums up the campaign and summer’s slate of activities this way: “It’s our way of celebrating our partnership with Coca‑Cola and helping everyone show their support for our service members.”