Coke and Telemundo Team Up for the Olympics

NBCU's Spanish-language broadcaster lands new business with Coke

Quieres una Coca-Cola? Telemundo is working with Coke in what will be the beverage giant's first Olympics-focused integrated marketing campaign keyed directly to Hispanics, and it's focusing not on hispanophone countries' Olympic teams, but on the surprising diversity of the U.S. athletic lineup.

"When you see the Chinese team coming in, you look at them and you know they're the Chinese team," said Coke avp of Hispanic marketing Reinaldo Padua bluntly. "The German team, the Nordic countries, look like they're from there. The USA team looks like the team of the world. It's very well-aligned with the values of the brand; being authentic and real and spontaneous."

Though Padua said Coke has been marketing to Hispanic consumers for a century (the company entered Latin America more than 100 years ago), he concedes that the current marketing push has been "consistent over about ten years." The landscape was changing and the growing demographic was now no longer considered a niche in the same way it might have been in the early aughts. And Coke likes the Olympics.

"In many companies, you say, 'Let me do something specific for Hispanics in Spanish,' but it's such a big group that up to 25 percent of the volume is coming from Hispanic consumers [but] 40 to 60 percent of the growth is coming from Hispanic consumers," Padua said. It's that much more important, then, to use a platform like the Olympics, which has high viewership across all demos, to target a group that's growing.

For Telemundo's part, the partnership is yet another extension of parent company NBCU's reinvigorated interest in the Hispanic demo, and also a major get for a network anxious to beef up its market share. Dan Lovinger, the Spanish-language broadcaster's evp of ad sales and integrated marketing, said that the deal ended a long dry spell between the broadcaster and the advertiser. "It's been a while since we've done business with Coca Cola," Lovinger said. "They were exclusively doing business with one of our large competitors." Presumably Lovinger means Univision, but a fun game for journalists to play with execs from both broadcasters is to try to get them to say the name of their main competitor in an interview (Try it. You will fail).

The deal, Lovinger said, "didn't start out being about the Olympics, but it quickly became about the Olympics. They said, 'You know, we have this media buy that was originally part of the NBCU discussions, but we really don't think that's going to move the needle.'" Coke wanted to know how to make the Olympics an event for U.S. Hispanics in the same way that the World Cup is an event for U.S. Hispanics, and the two companies' mutual solution (abetted by agency Oglivy) was to push for the American Olympic team.

"That same message that will establish a deeper relationship with the consumers," Padua said. "That emotional and cultural connection is really more on the emotional side with this consumer."