Coca-Cola eyes fresh Fifa deal

Related tags Coca-cola

Iconic soft drinks firm Coca-Cola has confirmed it is in talks with
world football association Fifa to secure a new long-term
sponsorship deal as the firm lays the foundations for marketing its
brands more aggressively, reports Chris Mercer.

Coca-Cola, which already has an eight-year deal with Fifa due to run out after next year's world cup, said it wanted to continue its long-lasting relationship with the world football body.

"We have an important relationship with Fifa and we are in a dialogue discussing how to move this forward in the longer term,"​ said Coca-Cola spokesperson Philipp Bodzenta, adding that he was unable to be more specific for now.

Coca-Cola has been linked to international football for more than 70 years, and has been an official Fifa partner since 1974.

Yet, the latest discussions perhaps come at a more important period in the firm's history, as it suffers from slowing sales of its trademark fizzy cola and looks to promote new reduced sugar drinks and extend its non-carbonated range to adjust to market trends.

The company suffered a decline across its carbonated soft drinks volume and in its market share, losing 0.9 share points, during 2004. Apart from Diet Coke, which posted 5 percent growth, Coke's other top 10 brands also drifted downwards, according to Beverage Digest​.

Recently, in an attempt increase its health portfolio, Coca-Cola has focused on broadening its drinks portfolio; getting clearance to launch a cholesterol-lowering juice in the UK, linking up with Tate & Lyle's popular Splenda sweetener and preparing to launch Coca-Cola Zero - a new zero-calorie cola.

Bodzenta said the company would try to give exposure to its whole portfolio in any new Fifa deal, which would be likely to cover the next two men's and women's World Cups as well as a number of events in between.

Last month, Coca-Cola said in its year-end report to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it needed to "re-energise marketing and innovation"​, and added it planned to increase spending on these two by $400 million (€311 million) in 2005.

"We believe we should invest in marketing our family of brands more aggressively than in the last few years,"​ said the firm, adding that its carbonated range was still a central part of its portfolio.

Football is certainly a good place to start. The 2002 world cup held in Japan and South Korea was broadcast in 213 countries with each match averaging 356 million viewers. The final alone pulled in 1.1 billion watchers - a sixth of the world's population.

Coca-Cola has already made a significant achievement by linking its name with one of the most popular world sports in many of its crucial markets. The company sponsors a variety of domestic football competitions and leagues, including the English Coca-Cola Championship and Coca-Cola cup.

Spokesperson Bodzenta said the firm also supported a lot of 'grass roots' football activities around the world, and that the passion in the game was great for Coca-Cola's image. "It's important to be where the people are,"​ he said.

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