With the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Russia now underway, a unique partnership between Coca-Cola, FIFA and Panini is once again giving fans the opportunity to "collect" their favorite players and teams both physically and digitally.

Through the Panini Digital Sticker Album, accessible as an app or online experience, Coca-Cola is the exclusive partner bringing the timeless hobby of collecting sports cards into the digital age.

An estimated 5 million people are gathering digital stickers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia book, and Coca-Cola is giving fans an added boost with several unique opportunities to grab exclusive stickers along the way.

“People have the ability to connect with FIFA, collect and trade stickers and get rewarded through their interactions with Coca-Cola,” explains Tony Francis, FIFA World Cup digital lead, Coca-Cola.

Panini has been making its popular official FIFA World Cup Sticker Album since 1970. In 1998, Coca-Cola partnered with Panini to offer exclusive stickers to fans in Brazil. Over the next 20 years, the partners have worked together to create new experiences for collectors, launching a digital version of the album in 2006 and a mobile app in 2014.

The 2018 edition, which launched in March, features several Coke-centric touches, including the ability to scan Coke packaging and exclusive stickers to unlock content. Fans can win prizes via both under-the-cap/promotional codes and in-game challenges.

Coca-Cola Fan Stickers are unlockable fan cards for each country of the 32 teams who have qualified for the action in Russia. They can be earned via in-game trades.

“Passion for football around the world is massive, and with Panini we can connect this passion to our consumer,” Francis said. “Coca-Cola and The Panini Digital Sticker Album brings innovation and fun to collecting the stars of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.”

The Panini Sticker Albums have global appeal and are a particularly big hit in Latin America. “That is a massive football region, of course, but there is also a huge passion for Panini," Francis said. "The Coca-Cola Mexico team, under the leadership of Moises Montiel has leveraged Panini and FIFA World Cup to drive their business, especially transactions. More than 100 million Coca-Cola bottles with 'under-the-label' stickers allow consumers to collect exclusive stickers from the Mexico National Team in both the physical and digital albums.

“Mexico is excited to drive transactions and experiences with digital innovation in our shopper channels,” adds Montiel.

With more than 5.5 million people playing, collectors have already uncovered more than 800 million stickers and swapped more than 170 million stickers.

And with the tournament now underway, there are more cards to hunt. Francis said there will be an update to the digital album in June, with 64 new cards featuring two extra players as rosters. In addition, there 32 additional images will highlight the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola, which recently wrapped up its global journey.

“The fact is, we’re connecting footballers around the world through their interaction with our product,” Francis said. “You have offline connecting to online and we are creating these massive social events. With more than five million participants, it’s pretty significant and it’s very innovative.”