A unique group of 14 U.S. athletes will represent an equally diverse lineup of six Coca-Cola brands in Tokyo at the Olympics and Paralympics next summer, which were pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the previously announced Coca-Cola “6-Pack” of athletes – which includes four Olympic champions (Caeleb Dressel, Swimming; Laurie Hernandez, Gymnastics; Alex Morgan, Soccer; and Simone Manuel, Swimming), an Olympic hopeful (Noah Lyles, Track and Field) and a Paralympic champion (Roderick Townsend, Track and Field) – five additional brands have also announced athlete partnerships for Tokyo 2020.
POWERADE – which will have its biggest-ever presence at the Olympic Games in Tokyo – will be represented by Christian Coleman (Track and Field), Crystal Dunn (Soccer), Asia Durr (Basketball) and Tatyana McFadden (Track and Field, Paralympics). Gymnastics Star Simone Biles will return as the face of Core Power, and swimmer Nathan Adrian will represent ZICO. Olympic Swimming Legend Missy Franklin will serve as the face of AHA, and Skateboard Hopeful Heimana Reynolds will promote vitaminwater.
Coca-Cola, the longest continuous sponsor of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the past 92 years, recently extended its partnership through 2032. The company extended its contracts with all 14 athletes through December 2021 once the Olympic Games were postponed.
Brand-specific activation details are still being finalized for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which kick off July 23, 2021.
“We are not simply lifting and shifting our plans,” Gerson said. “Our team has pivoted and is laser-focused on ideating and thoughtfully updating our campaigns and programming given the state of our country and the new timing for the Olympic Games.”
COVID-19 has challenged many of Coke’s 2020 sports activation plans, with pillar events either cancelled or postponed. These forced scheduling shifts are challenging the company to simultaneously prep for multiple global events taking place in a consolidated timeframe.
“In 2021, we will be planning, producing and activating Tokyo 2020 while planning and producing Beijing 2022,” Ricardo Fort, VP of global sports partnerships, said in a recent interview with SportBusiness. “We are busy working with the leadership of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and with Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Those projects haven’t been impacted whatsoever. For the events happening now, ones that were postponed or cancelled, we’ve been spending time working with partners and rights-holders to figure out how we can help them in re-planning. We’re working with our local teams in Japan, and in Europe for the EUROs that were also postponed.”
The Coca-Cola Company's Olympic journey began on a freight ship in 1928. The transport arrived in Amsterdam carrying the U.S. Olympic Team and 1,000 cases of Coca-Cola. Unbeknownst to many at the time, the long voyage would be a catalyst to a winning partnership between two beloved entities: Coca-Cola and the International Olympic Committee. Since then, the company has sponsored every Olympic Games, helping bring the Olympic spirit to fans in host cities and around the world.