Coca-Cola wanted to help the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be the most inclusive in the history of the event. The brand developed a “Happiness Flag” campaign, where users were encouraged to submit photos that would all become part of one massive mosaic in the form of a flag, to be debuted at the beginning of the World Cup.
Objective and Context:
Coca-Cola, a major sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, wanted to inspire global participation for the most inclusive FIFA World Cup ever. From a business perspective, the campaign addressed recruitment and retention of the brand’s global consumer base by connecting the world’s most popular soft drink, Coca-Cola, with the world’s most popular sport, football (soccer). For years, however, the perception among football’s fan base was that the World Cup was no longer an event for the people, but rather for corporations. Coca-Cola’s Happiness Flag campaign set out to do its part to change this perception. The FIFA campaign was one of Coca-Cola’s largest ever, as the brand launched a digital- and mobile-optimized initiative in 175 global markets. The key performance areas measured were reach and engagement across all channels, as well as which messaging and placement resulted in the lowest cost per selfie. The company also tracked total photos by country, date, and channel at all the various states of submission in order to optimize.
The targeting for Coca-Cola’s FIFA campaign was quite broad. Coca-Cola first focused on football fans and Coca-Cola fans, and gradually dove deeper into interests of the audience, including photography, social games, and creative propensity.
The creative strategy revolved around the idea of the 2014 Brazil World Cup being the most participatory and inclusive World Cup ever. All creative executions, from film to social, reflected the belief that football bridges all geographical, socio-economic, ethnic, gender, age, and religious divides. The Happiness Flag was the most tangible creative expression of this belief, created by bringing photos of over 220,000 fans from every nation together on the opening pitch in Brazil.
Overall Campaign Execution:
The campaign invited consumers from 207 countries around the world to submit selfie photos through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, the Coca-Cola mobile website, and even text. The brand received hundreds of thousands of submissions and used them to create the largest digitally produced photomosaic ever, dubbed the “Happiness Flag.” Mobile was the ideal channel to lead the campaign, as over 90 percent of social activity occurs on mobile, and selfies are a phenomenon made broadly popular by the smartphone. Coca-Cola used traditional media like TV and live events to create reach and awareness of the participatory nature of the campaign while leveraging its social spaces to create engagement with consumers and encourage them to make the Happiness Flag their own. To get around some of the legal implications that come with user-generated content, the brand developed a solution involving two-way communication that solved all compliance issues.
Mobile was at the heart of the marketing strategy from the very beginning. Every component was as optimized as possible for mobile, including the ability to submit entries through popular smartphone apps such as Facebook and Twitter, through mobile web, and even via SMS (text-based submissions would generate a custom, branded badge that became an image in the photomosaic). In addition to a responsive desktop design, Coca-Cola leveraged a mobile-specific site to ensure the optimal experience across a wide variety of devices.
The World Cup ambition was to make the 2014 FIFA World Cup the most participatory in event history. By providing a wide variety of ways to engage, from social apps to SMS to mobile web, Coca-Cola was able to invite all consumers to be a part of it. The Happiness Flag campaign achieved overall marketing goals. Coca-Cola received a record-breaking number of submissions for a digitally produced photomosaic (more than 220,000; the previous record was 176,000), and submissions were received from every country that was engaged in the campaign. The success inspired Coca-Cola to identify ways to replicate certain campaign aspects within the Coca-Cola marketing system, implementing a similar premise that uses photos as social currency and invites consumers to have a shared purpose in an influential, global campaign.